Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before: Bold as Love by Bob Roberts
by Rick Love
What happens when a Southern Baptist Pastor takes the Great Commandments as seriously as he does the Great Commission? We don’t have to guess. It is happening at Northwood Church in Dallas, Texas. Bob Roberts Jr. and his church are breaking out of the evangelical box and modeling “bold love.”
Bob’s latest book, Bold as Love, describes this pilgrimage into a life of radical, loving service in an interconnected world. Like his previous books, it is filled with examples of bridge-building love and faith-stretching stories – funny stories.
A local example: Bob meets a Pakistani Imam in Texas named Zia and decides to actually befriend him (and not just try to convert him). How do you make friends in Texas? You go hunting together.
Here’s Bob’s invitation to the Imam: "Zia, I'm from East Texas; if you show up hunting in your Pakistani garb, and I give you a 12-gauge, and we go running through those woods yelling Allahu akbar, we're gonna die. I'll take you, but I want you in jeans, a T-shirt, and talking with a Texas accent” (p. 25).
A global example: Bob likes using hunting to build bridges. He describes one hunting expedition with Afghans like this: “I've run deer with dogs before on hunts. But I've got to tell you, it doesn't come close to comparing with camel chasing across the desert with a rocket launcher. That was one of the wildest things I've ever done my entire life. Yes, we really did it. No, I didn't get one but it was sure fun to shoot” (p. 79).
Ok. Enough cool stories. How does this Southern Baptist pastor demonstrate bold love? Bob and his church do this through serving. One of their favorite sayings is, "Serve not to convert, but serve because you've been converted." Neighbor love is not just a nice idea, but a driving force for Northwood.
“Some churches are getting bad reputations globally because they are using world crises - like tsunamis and massive earthquakes - not to serve humanity but to try to convert them. I want people to accept Christ, but it all goes back to serving because you've been converted, not in order to convert others. If we serve, there will be plenty of chances to share our faith" (p. 97).
One of the book's strengths is Bob’s robust analysis of globalization in the 21 st Century. Bob exclaims, “Every religion is everywhere. Even in Dallas. Today, 44 percent of the population was not born in an English-speaking nation; 238 languages are spoken in the DFW area; 28 percent of the population doesn't speak English in their homes! In 1975, there was one mosque in the entire DFW area. Today there are forty-three!" (p. 6, 7).
Bob prefers to use the term “glocalization” to describe this phenomena - highlighting the comprehensive connectedness of the world in which we live (See http://www.glocal.net/).
Because of glocalization, he rightly argues that we need to radically adjust our communication. “Everything is in the public square; we must realize that whatever we blog or tweet, the whole world sees... We have to speak with what I call "one conversation" - not one conversation for just us Christians and another conversation for our public face, but a single conversation so that we are consistent, clear, and considerate in what we say" (p. 155).
Bold as Love will stir your heart and strengthen your faith. It will equip you follow Jesus in a glocalized world. But beware... this book could turn your world upside down!