(originally published in August 2012)
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of Bob Roberts Jr upcoming book, Bold as Love.
Bob challenges us to see people as God does, to treat them as God does, to love and pursue them as God does.
The book highlights Bob’s journey as he makes increased inroads serving and loving the world – literally. From his church long term commitment to serving and reaching Vietnam, to Bob’s numerous trips, projects, and personal relationships in the Arab world, he shares personal experiences learning to love and connect with people very different from him.
The core challenge he gives us to is lovingly serve the Muslim world and people. Befriending regular Muslims, leaders, Imams, mosques, and countries. The idea that love will bring us to places of discomfort is without a doubt. However, in Bob’s experience, a gracious spirit, an honest approach, and a genuine commitment to one’s faith-convictions will gain both respect and relationship.
From Bob’s perspective, the most opposition is usually from your own tribe (denomination or church) because of the cultural and embedded fears Christians have from what they hear in the media or indirect sources.
The book did leave me with one question. Why have many Christians experienced such persecution in Muslim environments while he’s experienced lots of favor (not without difficulty of course). I don’t have an answer for this nor have all the facts. Perhaps it all depends on context, relationship, and circumstances.
Regardless of that one question, I highly recommend Bold as Love for anyone who thinks they really love people as Jesus commands us. For anyone who wants to reach across the ethnic or religious divides but wonders if they are. For churches that long to be God’s living and local presence to everyone around them – including the local mosque or temple or night club. Pick up a copy.
Some of my favorite or challenging quotes:
What would it look like if the body of Christ were released upon the grid of society to serve humanity in all the domains of life. (p. 170)
Leadership… is seeing and recognizing unique moments of opportunity, then seizing them with boldness and courage. (p. 163)
Serve not to convert, serve because you are converted. (160)
You don’t have to trash another religion to promote Jesus. (p. 154)
To pray for “peoples” is important, but to love a specific “person” changes the way you pray. (p. 94)
We shouldn’t ‘do’ church, we should ‘be’ the church on the grid of society. (p. 85)
Finally, Bob’s approach to “MULTI-FAITH” vs the traditional approach with “INTER-FAITH” is worth reflecting on. The idea that we can still relate to and even serve with people of other faiths while staying true our own faith conviction (e.g. Jesus being Lord and Savior) is worth the read, if only to challenge some of our assumptions and approaches of what it means to follow Jesus, love people, and do mission in a pluralistic global society.
Beware, Bold as Love is an action movie of sorts. Though he shares some good theory and learning, Bob is all about living it and challenges the reader to live it tangibly.
We’re responsible to love, serve and share Jesus – no strings attached. “Gratitude asks,” Bob challenges, “what I am doing with this gift of life God has given me?”