Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively

I was really excited to read How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively.  I know for many of us who wear our faith on our sleeves, the fear of being weird, or more accurately, off-putting is a something that is always on our minds.  I've accepted being a crazy lady for Jesus and I'm fine with seeming different than others, but I never want my "weirdness" to turn anyone off to Jesus.

For the most part, this is a very practical and helpful book.  It gives advice on everything from how to approach your neighbors to how to handle the fear of approaching them to pitfalls to avoid.  Most of the advice can be applied to any situation where you have a "neighborly" relationship, whether physically in your neighborhood or even people who work near you at work.

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know one thing that drives me crazy...books geared towards women that have no reason to be gender specific.  That was one annoyance I have with this book.  There are little comments throughout, that almost seem forced, that try to make this book for women.  There is no good reason for them, anywhere.  They could have been taken out and this book marketed to men or women.  I find it incredibly irritating, but more importantly, I want to point out that there is no reason why men couldn't read this book and get just as much out of it as a woman.

I also have a bone to pick with a piece of advice given that points to something I never felt like the author addressed.  On page 87-88, her advice is that it would be weird for someone to minister to their neighbors without the "protective covering" of their church.  She says to go to your pastor and ask for their blessing and then accept reproof from your church leadership.  Great way to make people feel inadequate!  Would it be a bad thing if rogue people were ministering to each other in Christ?  I understand some of her's good to have accountability and spiritual protection.  Anyone who has done ministry knows how important they are.  But I have a clearly God-ordained ministry that my church leaders are uncomfortable with because I'm a woman who has been called to preach.  Should I crawl in a hole and not do what God has called me to do because my church leadership would rather cling to what they find comfortable than encourage what God has called me to?  Remember, when it comes to ministry, God is the final say, not the church.  The church is made up of screwed up human beings who I believe for the most part have honorable intentions, but they aren't perfect.  If God has given you a vision for ministry, follow the doors He opens.

Which leads to my next issue with the book.  It has great practical advice, but has little on the "crazy God things" that happen and how to handle them.  Here is the our human minds, God is weird.  Believers don't always understand what He does, much less non-believers.  We stand out from the world as a whole because Christianity is different.  I felt like by over emphasizing the "weird" theme, a reader could be led to believe that the goal is to avoid weirdness.  The goal is to love.  In our fallen world, to love others is weird.  There is a fine line to walk, but the goal is to weird only if necessary.

Aside from my negative points, this is still a good book for people looking to serve their neighbors and find ways to introduce them to Jesus.  Just keep in mind, serving God gets weird sometimes.  That's okay.

I was provided this book free of charge from Bethany House in return for my honest review.

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