Compassionate, Courageous, Commissioned

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What is the greatest problem in the church today? Do we need more courage? Should we show more compassion? Or perhaps we need new methods to fulfill the Great Commission? According to Collin Hansen in his new book Blind Spots, we need all three. There is not one “preferred cure-all solution.”

It becomes dangerous however, when Christians begin to think that only courage, for example, is needed. When they develop this single solution mindset and surround themselves with others who think that courage is the solution, attend churches that believe courage is the solution, and go to conferences and Bible studies that teach that courage is the solution, there can be a tendency to “wield our chief concern like a stick useful for beating up other Christians who don’t understand the problem.”

While we all have personal strengths that we think are most needed in today’s church,  we must realize the blind spots of each strength. This is the major premise of Hansen’s book. “Your weakness,” writes Hansen, “is often the flip side of your strength.” And these weaknesses are not something that we like to discuss much. It’s much easier to turn a blind eye.

“If you’re compassionate,” writes Hansen, “you can be so concerned with what others think that you shrink from telling the truth, especially about Jesus.” In addition, if you are courageous, “you probably fail sometimes to hear and heed legitimate criticism.” And if you’re commissioned and “look to explain the good news in a way the world can understand, you may struggle to confront the culture’s values where they conflict with the gospel.”

Hansen warns us against the disunity that can arise from a Christian’s one-sided vision of what the church needs. The truth is that we need each other. The church is “the only institution equipped in this age of skepticism to enjoy unity in diversity through profligate, never-ending truth in love.” As we become aware of our blind spots, “we’ll prepare to turn from our sins, follow our Savior, receive his reward, and await his return.”

I found two things extremely helpful about Blind Spots. First, Hansen caused me to think of my own personal blind spots. I am prone to lean towards seeing the need for courage. I see a great need for a return to theological depth in today’s church. But in doing so, I am quick to look down on those who seek to develop ministries I think have a tendency to distort the gospel. The truth is that I need to practice a bit more humility and instead of quick judgments, seek to listen and learn.

Second, Hansen helped me to see how courage, compassion, and commission work together. Perhaps the greatest need of the church today is for the people of God to work together in order to boldly speak the gospel to those who need it while caring and loving them in the midst of a broken world. If we are to let our “light shine before men” (Mt 5:16), we must become aware of our blind spots, work together and seek unity.

Blind Spots is a helpful reminder of what it means to be the church for the world. There is much concern today about declining churches in the West and what to do about them. It might be that Hansen’s work here could be of value in helping us determine what church revitalization might look like. But Blind Spots is not just for struggling churches or ministries, but all believers. As the title suggests, we all are prone to be blind to our weaknesses. Therefore, we need to have our eyes opened. I believe Hansen’s book will help us do just that.

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