Before even cracking the spine, the phrase,” What If Our Western View of Church Isn’t God’s View of Church?” introduces readers to the unique journey awaiting them inside the pages of Bob Roberts Jr.’s Lessons from the East.
Christians who are discontent with church as usual, will have their eyes opened to a never before imagined kingdom perspective. Roberts addresses hot topic issues from a Christ perspective. In discussing how Jesus related to those despised by others he says, “Who are ‘those people’ in my world? Do I despise Muslims, gays, rednecks, addicts, inner-city young black men, people on welfare, or undocumented immigrants (to name some of the most common ones)? Or do I at least tolerate them and muster just enough civility to have guarded conversations with them? Or do I go where they are to get to know them, listen to them, and love them enough so they feel comfortable with me? And here’s the big one: Do any of them call me their friend?” Actually referring to “those people” as friends, gently poke holes in the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” podium so popular among evangelicals. Loving the person as a whole removes the degrees of separation and opens doors of real communication and relationship.
Roberts shares real life relational experiences with people of many different faiths showing how building relationships outside of “tribes” fosters unity even among those who do not agree on theology. “The biggest threat to the kingdom of God isn’t liberal politics or bad theology, it’s tribalism. I’m not talking about headhunters in Borneo. I’m talking about the tendency of people to gather with their own kind and reject anyone who doesn’t conform to their beliefs and standards. We can form isolated tribes according to ethnicity, religion, nationality, class, gender, economic status, politics, loyalty to a football team, and almost anything else we can imagine. Wherever you see walls of suspicion and rejection of others, you’ll find an identifiable tribe behind the walls.” No one wants to be excluded; the book demonstrates how inclusion helps believers carry out the directive, “go and make disciples.”
Lessons from the East illustrations how a “Global Collaborate Community is fully engaged in the public square rather than, as many church leaders in America, embracing a combative stance, viewing modern culture as a threat they must fight against. This perspective effectively creates an “us against them” mentality in the church and crushes any chance for meaningful engagement.” The church seems to have forgotten its job is to love, not judge, and Lessons from the East serves as a reminder.
Roberts’ viewpoint on global kingdom perspective is so different from what is considered the norm in Christian circles, that some may find the content less than desirable. However, overcoming any discomfort and pressing on until the final pages may bring about an unexpected change in perspective. For anyone yearning to live their life from a true kingdom perspective, the treasure buried within these pages is worth uncovering.
***In exchange for this review, Handlebar Publishing provided a complimentary copy
of the book reviewed.