Monday, April 20, 2015

Blind Spots, by Collin Hansen

Thimgs are rarely as simple as three clean categories, but Collin Hansen has identified three types of Christians who reflect three characteristics of Jesus: courageous, compassionate, and commissioned.  In Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church, Hansen points out ways in which one kind of Christian can have blinds spots, causing them to miss things that other kinds of Christians see.

Many Christians share Hansen's experience: "Because I'd understood my experience as normative for everyone, I couldn't see how God blessed other Christians with different stories and strengths."  Courageous Christians are sometimes "single-issue Christians," with a passionate interest in a particular social cause.  They become dangerous when they become "only-issue Christians."  They might become intolerant, demanding that "you fall in line behind their agenda."  Their courage in the face of evil and sin is admirable and Christlike, until they forget that "courage is not measured by how many people you can offend."

Compassionate Christians want to give, but may emphasize giving at the expense of the gospel itself.  They have to recognize that our "compassion won't always be appreciated or even received by a world that rejects the source of our compassion."  No matter how much we give, do, or love, many still "reject us and the gospel Jesus preached."  The third characteristic, commissioned, sets evangelicals apart: "Belief that the Great Commission still applies to us today separates evangelicals from churches that have sued for peace with our pluralistic age."  But even commissioned churches have a tendency to be homogenous, even elitist.

Each of the three kinds of Christians or churches easily develops blind spots to their own weaknesses as well as to the strengths of the other groups.  Hansen calls for us to look to one another's strengths and seek unity in Christ.  As we abide in Christ, he will develop our character to reflect his own.  We can recall his lengthy prayer, as he was awaiting his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for unity in the church.  Our goal should be "the kind of biblical fulness that . . . expects opposition from the world and seeks unity among believers for the sake of the world."

I think most Christians will see themselves in the three categories Hansen describes.  We need someone like Hansen to point out our blind spots from time to time, and prayerfully seek a more balanced Christian walk.  As we become more Christlike, we can become courageous, compassionate, and commissioned Christians and churches.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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