“You don’t know what you don’t know.” I’ve heard that phrase dozens of times and it never loses its ring of simple profundity. The humbling, and somewhat disconcerting truth is, we don’t know the things that we don’t know about until they are pointed out or we learn them. Perhaps another phrase is also true: you don’t see what you don’t see.

In his book Blind Spots Collin Hansen is pointing out that we don’t tend to see the weaknesses in ourselves. This is a particularly relevant problem for us to consider today. Tim Keller observes in the forward that as the culture is rapidly becoming post-Christian the church seems to be fragmenting as we consider how to respond. Hansen groups these fragmenting responses into three groups, each with their own blind spots, and each becoming increasingly critical of the other two responses.

The three groups that Collin see believers fragmenting into are: courageous, compassionate, and commissioned. Each group tends to see through the lenses of their particular leaning. The courageous are the ardent defenders of theology and doctrine; the compassionate seek to help and serve those who are hurting; and the commissioned are those who see the ultimate priority of winning souls. Obviously none of these are bad, however, Hansen is arguing, most of us tend to gravitate towards one of these, and when we do, we also tend to gravitate away from the other two. Sometimes this is more passive (omitting them) and other times it is more active (attacking them).

Hansen states his purpose for the book by writing, “I wrote this book in the hopes that you would understand the power of the gospel to expose our blind spots so that we could see our differences as opportunity. It is the will of God to put to death our sin and unite our hearts with his so we can love our neighbors as ourselves.”

As I read the book and attempted to run a diagnostic on myself, I found the categories helpful. I am personally inclined toward the courageous defense of the faith. I find myself less patient with the other two categories. The convicting aspect of Collin’s argument comes when he shows that Jesus had all 3 of these aspects present in his life and ministry. He was courageous, compassionate, and commissioned. Therefore, I should not flatten the evident diversity in Christ to reflect my own personal leanings. The body of Christ ought to reflect the unity and diversity that we see in the Trinity. Further, the body of Christ should rejoice in its diversity, even as we learn from one another. We are, after all, longing to see people conformed into the likeness of Christ, not ourselves.

In evaluating this, I found two rocks in my shoe. First, why is it so difficult to acknowledge our personal blindspots, while it is so easy to find other’s issues? Second, why wouldn’t the church be the safe and established place to identify personal blindspots only to be strengthened by our church family? It seems like both of these questions are answered by the truth of the gospel and new community that it shapes.

The strength of this book are twofold for me. It describes in detail what it means and does not mean to be courageous, compassionate, and commissioned. This is helpful; Collin put in the whiteboard time for us so we could think more deeply about these terms. Also, it gently forces us to consider how we think and treat others.

I encourage folks to pick up a copy and consider their own blind spots even as they aim to appreciate the diversity of Christ’s church.