Blind spots are something everyone has. You might experience a blind spot when you’re driving down the road and can’t see that car that seems to be just hidden from view until suddenly you see them as you want to get in the lane next to you. Or you might have a blind spot with regards to an issue in your life that you don’t feel is as big as your being told it is. The Church has blind spots as well. To address these issues and more is why Collin Hansen wrote Blind Spots Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church.
Collin wrote this book he states so, “You might learn to compare yourself more to Christ than to other Christians. When you and I compare ourselves to Christ, we get unity because we see our sin and forgive one another as God forgave us” (19). It’s easier to point out the faults of others than to own our own sin. It’s easier to talk over someone than to listen to people talk. It’s easier to not thank someone when they do something nice for us than it is to thank them for their hard work. It’s easier to just skate through life than it is to deal with our blind spots. This is one reason that God has given us one another to get us out of our comfort zones and to make us uncomfortable so we’ll grow in Christ. As Collin notes in chapter one, “We all have blindspots. It’s so easy to see the fault in someone else or in another group but so difficult to see the limitations in ourselves. Unless you learn to see the faults in yourself and your heroes, though, you can’t appreciate how God has gifted other Christians. Only then can you understand that Jesus died for this body, which only accepts the sick. Only then can we together meet the challenges of our rapidly changing age” (27).
Collin states, “As we point fingers at each other in the church, the world desperately needs our helping hands” (27). It’s easy to point out the sins of other people but it’s much harder to deal with our own. To help us understand this Collin asks, “Where, then, do you fit in this description? Fill in this blank: The greatest problem with the church today is ________. Ask yourself, “Where do I invest the bulk of my time, money, and other resources?” (33). Questions like this are one’s we should ask regularly especially when we seem to want to critique the Church rather than love the Church. Collin shares, “The Church of Jesus is the only institution equipped in this age of skepticism to enjoy unity in diversity through profligate, never-ending true in love. Together as we notice our blind spots, we’ll prepare to turn from our sins, follow our Savior, receive his reward, and await his return. We’ll find evidence that the kingdom of God has already dawned in Jesus Christ. We’ll search for signs that his kingdom advances in, through, and despite us. And we’ll find hope for our time in the sure promise of a day coming soon when united we’ll stand before the throne of grace.” (39).
In chapters two through four, Collin sets forth how Christians can be compassionate, courageous, and commissioned. These chapters reminded me that to really love people we must deal with our own issues. To truly love God and our neighbor is to do as the Puritans taught and do “heart-work” which doesn’t mean becoming overly introspective but about seeing reality as it is not as we want it. For the Christian whose been born again, we can see reality as it really is. Our vision is not clouded with sin-stained glasses—instead as a result of our heart of stone being replaced with a new heart, with new affections, and desires for the Lord we can see/know reality through gospel tinted glasses. We can behold the glory of Christ. We can love God and love our neighbor. That is how we’ll be compassionate. This is the source of our being courageous by the Holy Spirit to speak out against social injustice in our society and for biblical purity within the Church. And this is how we’re also commissioned to live out the Christian life by the Holy Spirit.
As I’ve stated in this review already it’s easy to point out the faults of others and not take responsibility for your own. One of the blind spots as I see it in my own heart and in the broader church is a lack of real leadership. Sure it’s easy to say, “All is well with our soul” but is it really?” For those who have been Christians their entire lives, it’s easier to not repent. It’s easier to not read our Bible’s since we’ve likely already read the Bible cover to cover. So why read it every day? Or, “Why pray with my wife can’t I do that later when I have my time of prayer?” While the Lord is working on me in all of these areas I know I’m not alone in this because other seasoned Christians have told me this is their experience as well.
Allow me a moment of clarify what I just said so you don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: It’s not that I don’t read my Bible, nor am I saying that I don’t pray with my wife. I do all those things. Do I do them regularly each and every day like I know I should? No. One of the blind spots I see in the Church is a failure of leaders to be real and transparent. In men’s ministry instead of teaching men to be weak men being made strong by the power of God’s grace– we instead teach them to be strong men in their own power.
When I work with men at church or outside the church, I emphasize embracing their weakness rather than embracing the worldly definition of strength/success. True success from a biblical perspective has little to do with our accomplishments. Yes, they can be important but they are not ultimate. What will stand is what is done for God in His power and strength. What won’t stand is works done in our own strength and power—they will be blown away like the wind. This is why we need books like Collin’s to help us think through where we’ve gone wrong. We need guidance and we need one another.
This is why I like how Collin ends his book. He says, “Abiding in Christ is the best defense against the blind spots that destroy our joy in following Jesus and sets us against other believers with different gifts and callings. Abiding in Christ will protect you from growing discouraged and getting sidetracked in trying to obey Jesus’ commandments” (111). The point here isn’t to offer simplistic answers. Rather the point is to focus on our own spiritual growth and to minister out of our own growth in God’s grace. In this way, we’ll address one of the biggest blind spots—hypocrisy by answering it with a consistent and godly Christian life that we’ve been called to in the New Testament.
Whether you are in vocational ministry or ministering as a lay person Blind Spots has something for you. As Collin notes this book will affect people differently. For me, I greatly enjoyed and was encouraged by this book. I highly recommend this book believe it will help every Christian to love Jesus and the Church better.