Have you ever done anything bold? How about skydiving? A trans-atlantic cruise? Speaking in front of a crowd?
How about something like having your Middle Eastern neighbor over for coffee? In his new book Bold as Love, author and pastor Bob Roberts, Jr, challenges the church to step outside of our "tribes" to embrace people different from us. I don't remember ever reading a book and saying "Yes!" in my heart over and over again.
As a little background, Roberts is a pastor in Dallas, and hosts "multi-faith events" in which he invites Muslims and Jews, as well as Christians from his church, to meet one another and become friends. He makes the vital distinction that multi-faith is different from "inter-faith"- multi-faith holds that people from different religious backgrounds don't agree about their faith, but still want to learn and have genuine friendships.
---> On a fun side note, when I received this book in the mail, my husband said, "Hey, I went to college with his the author's granddaughter!" And when I began reading the book, I found out that the author grew up about 50 miles from my hometown- which really helped me identify with him on the topic of the book. Such a small world!
The Bible commands us to love one another. That's common knowledge for most. But how do we really show love? One point that Roberts makes is that we can only truly LOVE those we know personally. I can say, "Yes, as a Christian, I love everyone" and while that is true in a general sense- God wants us to genuinely know and care for the people he has created.
I grew up in a very small hometown where the majority of my classmates were Caucasian, African American and Hispanic. In high school, a few Asian people moved to our school. I had the privilege of being friends with people of all these backgrounds. However, when we moved to Houston 4 1/2 years ago to plant our church, I couldn't believe the vast diversity of people, cultures, faiths, and backgrounds. I love it! This is where God called us to be, and he has brought people from every nation literally to our neighborhood.
Roberts brings to light a fascinating reminder- "The Bible is nothing if not a book about migration, globalization, different faiths mingling and mixing- and Jesus Christ speaking to it all" (p 14). In our time, the world has never been smaller. On just the street we live on, we have friends from Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, Croatia, Greece, and the Philippines. One of my daughter's best friends is from Nepal, and her mother is one of my closest friends. God has literally brought the world to our front door, and we get to love on these people! What a precious gift we feel we've been given.
My daughter and her Nepalese friend. Love this!
I thought it was very interesting the Roberts points out, "...when you love boldly the religious establishment gets very nervous." Oh how this is true. So many Christians are understandably timid to step out on faith and minister to others, and that fear is sometimes shown by criticizing those who do love others from different faiths and cultures. Roberts even admits his own initial fear of Vietnamese people because of the Vietnam War. However, he has boldly stepped out in love and counts members of the Vietnamese community as some of his good friends (p 46).
This book is an extremely challenging book to get out of our comfort zone and love on those different from us. As I very well know, it is hard to make time for others outside of our immediate circle. With four kids now, most of my days are spent doing laundry, nursing, planning meals and cooking them, as well as homeschooling. But our lives-as a whole family- are so richly blessed when we take time to reach out to others, we wonder why we don't do it more often.
So here's my challenge to you: reach out to someone different from you. Different color. Different faith. Different country of origin. Have them over for dinner. Take them out to coffee. And let me know- what did you learn?
If you wish to purchase this book through Thomas Nelson, you can use the code boldaslove33 to get 33% off your purchase!
I was asked to review this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers and received as complimentary copy of the book. However, all views are my own and I received no monetary compensation.