The latest book by Bob Roberts has him back in our “reader-faces” urging us toward a love like Christ’s. He does this with challenges, stories, very sound ideas and real-world examples. At times, it is literally barrier-breaking apostolic leadership. Each page has evidence of his passion for showing Christ-like love through one-on-one relationships and his desire to help the reader (me and you) do the same.
While the audience he speaks to is sometimes pastors or church leadership, its content is accessible to anyone. No divinity degree level theology required. No burdensome title necessary. Good thing as I have neither.
I’ll break out some items from each of the eight chapters; teasers at best.
ONE – Boldly Loving All My Neighbors
Who are my neighbors? (And old question, see Luke 10:29 to get an idea how old.) Bob lays out an astonishing array of statistics for his city’s diversity and challenges us to find out what our cities look like. Are you ready for boldly loving your neighbors? If you’re breathing you’ve past the first requirement. If you care enough to find the answer to the first question – you’ve passed the test. You’re ready. My favorite quote of the chapter: “Loving others was made for when it’s hard, scary and near impossible.”
TWO – Confronting All My Fears
Bob outlines five fears to overcome and why we should: “fear will undermine our being able to be part of the greatest movement of God since the early church”. Fear that, not what maybe/might/could happen to you if you engage.
THREE – Using All My Faith to Get Out on the Edge
Moving out and engaging your non-Christian neighbor is risky; especially the big “M” neighbor. Some of your friends might not understand. Don’t worry your time away on those folks, pass them a copy of the book and see if they get it. Most importantly concern yourself with you. “The greatest threat we have is the little dictator that lives inside all our hearts”. Move to the Edge, connect, and build relationships.
FOUR – Serving Others with All My Might
Here Bob points us away from “converting” as the focus of our efforts and brings us back to service. It’s back in the building relationships, and earning the trust of your neighbor. If you are diligent, you will have an opportunity to share your faith, not with a single mighty swing of your 3, 7 or 12 step plan. But over time, one stick, one board, one meal at a time. “The love of Christ is in our life. To demonstrate that love, we much have a relationship with others”.
FIVE – Requiring All My Truth
This is currently my favorite chapter and worth the read all by itself. At least, read this chapter. Bob breaks down the barriers we have allowed theology to erect that makes the simple truths of Christ’s message nearly inaccessible to ordinary people like myself. He writes of a simple, honest and non-speculative theology. The section on apologetics is very accessible. “We don’t need to talk as engineers and professors explaining the faith, but as practitioners of the faith and followers of Jesus”. Man, this is good stuff.
SIX – Living Our Faith with All Our Faiths Present
“…the world is made up of devout, ardent religious conservatives, who believe everyone is going to hell except those who believe in their religion. These are the people who need to be reached if we’re going to have a more peaceful world.” The concept of “Multifaith” is laid out for us. From its genesis and importance to how it applies. Then into how it will strengthen our individual faith.
SEVEN – Challenging All My Tribe
Beginning with defining tribes, how we fit into them and the influence they have on us, we are then ushered into how to hear other tribes, again to help establish and build these vital relationships. “You represent far more than your tribe; if you follow Jesus, you represent him. If observers don’t respect the way you live for Jesus, why would they want to follow him?” Be careful of your tribal allegiances hindering your representation of Jesus.
EIGHT – Forgiving with All My Heart
Bob starts with an exploration of faith and a very insightful look at the part forgiveness plays in it. Then we move on to our relationships and how forgiveness will play a role in them. He also lets us know it is a tough thing to do; to be forgiving and to ask for forgiveness. But, both are essential to our effective ability to build credible relationships that will allow others to see Jesus in us. “He didn’t enter us to stay cooped up, …”.
It’s a great book. Bob’s easy conversational style and the stories he has make the pace of the book move along. I’ll be going back to Chapter 5 a few times though because the information there is so very useful. I expect that will prompt a “wandering around” to refresh myself on a couple of others as well.