One of the reasons I hated moving from my mid-size SUV down to an old sedan after my first car died was the fact that it was so short. I was used to riding up high, feeling like I could see most things, but now, in the smaller vehicle I felt exposed and off-kilter. Driving on the freeway was particularly annoying as I would frequently find myself being surprised by cars coming up on my sides. It appeared my blind spots had expanded. Now, fortunately, I knew what was going on and so I was able to correct for it.
But what about the blind spots you don’t know you have? Those are the most dangerous of all. And they can happen anywhere, can’t they? Not only on the road, but in our daily life of interpersonal interaction with friends, family, the broader culture, and even the Church. All too often, our conversations break down, our relationships fail, and even our unity is ruptured because we’re operating without an awareness of our blind spots–so we’re not prepared to correct for them. Collin Hansen’s new book, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church is aimed at helping the Church, which Crossway has graciously made available for free to Christ and Pop Culture members. In a nutshell, Hansen offers his readers a brief theology of the importance of respecting the diverse experiences within the Church for the sake of the Church’s ability to follow Jesus.
What do I mean? Well, Hansen makes the very common, but important point that we all have different stories of faith. You grew up in church. Your neighbor got saved at 55 at a Billy Graham crusade. Your sister finally got around to things after somebody cornered her with the four spiritual laws at a Cru event, while your cousin met Jesus after going on a mission trip with a church that let him come even though he was a bitter atheist. Each of these experiences is different and each of them has probably led to different understandings what it means to come to faith, be a Christian, or follow Jesus. Each will also result in different strengths and focuses when it comes to following Jesus.
One of you might be very attuned to a compassionate approach towards the weak and the vulnerable, another might be ready to stand firm and courageous in order to defend the truth, and a third will be focused on what’s the most practical way of getting the word out. The problem comes when each of those strengths leads to blindness towards the strengths, gifts, and blessings of our brothers and sisters whose stories have shaped them differently than ours have. In fact, it’s not simply that we don’t appreciate them, it’s that our failure to appreciate our blind spots sets us at odds with each other.
As Hansen puts it about his own story:
With my highly attuned gift for discerning others’ motives, it didn’t take long for me to see what’s wrong with everyone else. Then I blamed them for not seeing the wisdom in my arguments. It took longer to realize that my experience does not exhaust the example of Jesus. And when I finally compared my life to Jesus, as he’s revealed across four multifaceted Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, I began to see my own sin, my blind spots. Because I had understood my experience as normative for everyone, I couldn’t see how God blessed other Christians with different stories and strengths. Yes, they needed to develop discernment, knowledge, and courage. But God wanted me to see how we would be stronger together in the body of Christ as we worked according to our unique gifts.” (17)
This is what Hansen’s work is designed to help us do. Now, I’ll be honest and say I’m probably biased here. Hansen’s a friend and I’ve been blessed by his wisdom on issues of cultural engagement many times over the last couple of years, but I can’t tell you how pleased I am that we’re able to offer this little work to our members. For those of us looking to improve understanding, appreciate godly diversity, and the Church’s ability to “testify with one voice” to the grace of our Savior Jesus, you can find no surer guide than Blind Spots.