Dr. Metzger is a refreshing and important voice in the Church today. It is rare to see such a bringing together of what many consider to be polar opposites: conservative, evangelical theology and loving liberally those who may never come to know Christ. Following Christ's example of loving us while we were yet God's enemies (Romans 5:10) should cause us to love both the interested, and the not-at-all interested in Christianity; both those like us, and those not at all like us.
Too often we, as the Church, are found guilty of loving only those who have the potential to assist us in our dogged desire to grow homogeneous congregations where we can remain comfortable and safe, where our children will not brush up against someone who does not look, think, or behave in a manner in which we (and they) are accustomed. We do this sequestering routine for good reason; authentic love and real, skin-on-skin relationship ruins us - in the best way possible. It is not conceivable that one would come face-to-face with another human being, and actually get to know them, truly love them, and walk away unchanged. It is not feasible to expect to walk away from these kinds of encounters unscathed. It is also not possible to escape genuine community without becoming more Christ-like, anymore than it is possible to stop the sun from shinning, or the moon from rising.
The ironic part of Dr. Metzger's address is that loving, sans any conversion agenda, is the most effective way to bring others to Christ. Just as Melvin is "rude, insensitive, racially bigoted, homophobic, and severely obsessive compulsive, until he falls in love," so it is with us. We cannot see outside our narrow, uniformed paradigms until we fall in love with those who differ from us; and our unbelieving neighbors cannot see Christ for who He really is until they fall in love with us, his "complex, mysterious, inconsistent, contradictory, wart-infested, and wondrous to behold" representatives.
In Dr. Metzger's writing one sees humility over hubris, amiability over austerity, and veraciousness over veneer. This book is a life-giving read.