The world, and in particular, the United States is becoming more divisive.
Few people I know would disagree with that statement right now.
Yet, few people I know – including, or perhaps, especially – Christians, know what to do about that divisiveness.
In his book, Real Love In An Angry World, pastor and author Rick Bezet attempts to give Christians a roadmap for how to stick to their convictions without alienating people.
What I loved about Real Love In An Angry World is how relationally centered it is. Rick's roadmap for how to stick to your convictions without alienating people begins with defining truth relationally. According to him, “When we recognize that trust is a Who (not just a what), our focus moves from what we know to Who we know. And that means we experience truth totally within the context of relationships... If we view truth as territory to defend, instead of a relationship to share, our instinct will be to get defensive with others whom we consider a threat to our faith.”
Given Rick's focus on relationships, it's not surprising that he also emphasizes the role community has in discipleship. According to him, “We can misunderstand things when we're on our own, but we're more likely to sort out our misunderstandings if we read [the Bible] with others... God never intended for us to be off on our own trying to figure everything out.”
Rick's roadmap for how to stick to your convictions without alienating people also includes love. He reminds people, “God is not mad at you. He loves you and wants to be with you... It's not that God can't stand to be in our presence because we're messed up people. It's that we can't live in His presence with sin.” In fact, Rick suggests “the world doesn't know what real love looks like because the church has viewed the world as the enemy... We talk about love, but what we demonstrate is hate.”
In order to stick to your convictions without alienating people, Rick also suggests that “your convictions should never be broadcast. They have to be requested.” How I wish I would have learned that years ago! Doing so would have saved me all kinds of alienation and grief.
To be clear, this is NOT a book that addresses specific issues (political or otherwise). Those expecting it to do so will be sorely disappointed. As Rick explains, “When we throw ourselves into an issue – even when it's a good thing – we can completely lose sight of people... Fixating on issues makes it hard to make disciples. When we focus on issues, we form teams that compete – it's us against them.”
That said, Real Love In An Angry World is a much-needed and timely work that many Christians will find helpful. It would also make for a good book to discuss in small groups, where people could, together in community, wrestle with how best to apply Rick's roadmap to their lives.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Real Love In An Angry World in exchange for a fair and honest review.