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The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus Hardcover – November 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Labberton’s latest sports a provocative title, much on the order of his earlier work, The Dangerous Act of Worship (2007). But this one seems to deviate from its suggested intent, offering only a few anecdotes involving personal encounters with immediate neighbors. Many more examples relate to oppression and injustice being done to “neighbors” in a much larger global community, and in some ways, this makes the act of loving seem somewhat remote. At points, the book also veers away from its suggested Jesus-specific vision, citing several passages from the Old Testament. Even so, each chapter provides specific exercises containing truly insightful questions. It is these structured inquiries that are most likely to provoke readers to examine personal perceptions as well as behaviors and passive indifference that can lead to oppression and injustice. Operating as a workbook for personal growth, this may very well help promote change for a better world. --Susan DeGrane


"This book is a refreshingly honest, very important resource for all followers of Christ. More and more people in the church today are reawakening to the importance of not just sharing, but also showing their faith. Mark Labberton gets back to basics in this book, reminding us all just why this shift is important. What is our motivation? Why must we serve? Labberton's authenticity, combined with practical ideas and steps for personal reflection, will deeply challenge and encourage all seeking to be faithful disciples of Christ." (Outreach, March/April 2012)

"Labberton has brought all this experience to bear in writing a book that should be read and studied by everyone who is serious about seeing the world as God sees it and becoming a person who lives the transforming power of God's justice in the world." (Neil Craigan, The Presbyterian Outlook, March 7, 2011)

"[The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor] can help a congregation experience profound insight into both God's character and our practical response to God's mission in the world." (Amy L. Sherman, Christian Century, February 2011)

"The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor is a thoughtful read for Christian readers, very highly recommended." (James A. Cox, Library Bookwatch, January 2011)

"This is a well-researched volume filled with hpe and encouragement for Christians who want to seek justice and help fulfill God's purpose of establishing a kingdom free of abuse of power toward His people. Readers who want a fresh understanding of this call will treasure the ground Labberton treads." (JCH, Church Libraries, Winter 2010-11)

"Extremely well written, this book is meant to be read slowly. Labberton's writing is thoughtful, provocative, and penetrating. He provokes self-reflection, which is neither easy nor flattering. Be prepared to have your paradigm shifted and your distracted heart refocused. Recommend to pastors and group leaders." (David Mundt, CBA Retailers + Resources, December 2010)

"Labberton's most recent 'dangerous' installment challenges readers to reflect on why the heart can become complacent about the world and its needs. Labberton encourages readers to first see rightly, the beginning of how our hearts are changed." (Christian Retailing, December 2010)

"Operating as a workbook for personal growth, this may very well help promote change for a better world." (Susan DeGrane, Booklist, November 15, 2010)

"Beckmann, president of the Christian non-profit Bread for the World, lays out his case not just for the priority of dealing with hunger, but also for the need to deal with it with political solutions, not just through charity. Labberton argues persuasively that engaging injustice in the world must go hand in hand with a renewal of our hearts." (Mark Galli, Christianity Today, October 2010)

"The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor asks important questions, deeper questions we may not have thought to ask yet in our pursuit of justice, and ones that will take a lifetime to answer. We say we want justice, but our self-centric hearts betray us. So how do we override our hearts? This book opened my eyes to the difference between doing something and becoming someone--a person of justice, reoriented to the heart of Jesus." (Sara Groves, singer/songwriter)

"Reading Mark Labberton's book . . . has rekindled my faith in the gospel of Jesus--the good news of God, who sees, names and acts truly, in love; a gospel that frees me to act, without deception or pressure to change anyone. The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor has also rekindled my resolve to continue on the path of seeking God, who alone is just and changes the human heart--my heart, which, except for his grace, is prone to misperceiving, misnaming and misacting! . . . I thank God for Mark Labberton and the gift of this book. I commend it wholeheartedly to all those whose work (as all work should be) is devoted to bringing hope to those on the margins of society and to all who desire to be true to the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. I commend it to all in the pastoral vocation, and I commend it to disciples of Jesus who serve in the realm of politics and the judiciary. It is groundbreaking in its elucidation of how the roots of injustice are embedded in the shaping of the human heart through the most ordinary stuff of daily human interaction." (Dr. David Zac Niringiye, bishop in the Church of Uganda (Anglican))

"Mark Labberton's new book, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor, is an intensely human and courageously confessional reflection on radical loving. His pastoral approach is inviting, drawing the reader into the urgent conversation that thoughtful Christians need as they desperately attempt to reclaim an embodied love in a world that longs to experience it. Provocative, prophetic, pastoral and passionate about living into a reality of love, Mark's book is captivating and compelling." (Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh, author of Simple Spirituality and coauthor of Friendship at the Margins)

"The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor is a book that I've been waiting for! It is a practical and thought-provoking guide that shows us how to cultivate lives of justice, mercy and faith in a world that is in desperate need of compassion and reconciliation. I highly recommend this book to everyone who really wants to make a difference in the world. It is an outstanding sequel to The Dangerous Act of Worship!" (Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, president of Salter McNeil Associates and author of The Heart of Racial Justice)

"For too long we have divorced the quest for 'being spiritual' from a commitment to 'doing justice.' In this powerfully inspiring book, Mark Labberton provides wise insights--and some wonderful stories!--about how to connect inside with outside in the Christian life. A must-read for all who care about faithful discipleship!" (Richard J. Mouw, president and professor of Christian philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Uncommon Decency)

"Here is a book to heal the demonic split between private religion and public action. Eloquent and subversive, intelligent and passionate, these reflections are designed to move you toward a true worship of God that involves loving him in and through every sphere and domain of life." (Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways and coauthor (with Debra Hirsch) of Untamed)

"Mark Labberton draws us to understand the reality of injustice in our world--a reality that we can all too easily turn into vague abstractions--by beginning first with a raw, honest examination of our own hearts. Mark's manner with his reader is at the same time gracious and incisive, invoking careful consideration of the assumptions and broken perceptions that lead us away from the heart of God--and above all, compelling us to a restored perception of the image of God in every human being. This is a book you will want to spend considerable time ingesting, and as you do so, you are sure to be changed. Let this book lead you to encounter the gospel from a renewed perspective, bringing you into a transformed relationship with the broken world that God has called his people to love with justice." (Gary A. Haugen, president and CEO, International Justice Mission and author of The Good News About Injustice)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book cuts right to the heart of what I consider to be the biggest dilemmas of the Christian faith--why don't Christians live like Christ, and more specifically, why don't I?

Labberton's pastoral background is abundantly clear in the book, as he gently cuts not just to the heart of this question writ large, but also cuts away the veils that I put up in an attempt to convince myself that God's heart looks just like mine. He is sure-handed as he performs this delicate surgery to uncover God's heart, buried deep under a variety of half truths that culture has provided, and gracious in his invitation to reflect on this process/space. He acknowledges the discomforting, disquieting nature of remaining in this place, and helps to engage heart, soul, and mind in the transformation that it brings.

In short, I would highly recommend it to any one who is seeking to better understand what it means to truly love your neighbor. I found this book transformational; it is not an overstatement to say that it restored my soul. It helped me to reaffirm the things in my life that I strive to value, while exposing all the ways that I keep myself from living out God's call to love my neighbor. As the title suggests, it is a dangerous call, and one that I suspect we will need to hear again and again. It is a book that I plan to read frequently.

I should note that I swore off reading Christian books some time ago for the sake of my sanity. I am a rather vigorous reader, and simply found myself incredibly frustrated by intellectually lazy arguments and faulty logic, even when people are making points that I ultimately agree with.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is sheer gift. It is not easy, it is not quick, it is not the sort of book that one reads in an armchair with nachos nearby. It is more like an honest conversation with a longtime friend, someone who knows you perhaps as well as you know yourself.

The book works on two levels. It is on its face an extended reflection on the link between the individual human heart and social injustice. It draws a straight line between the casual contempt we harbor towards others and the unheralded tragedies that characterize life for the global underclass. The author is a gifted and unflinching observer of the human psyche, gently guiding us into the recesses of our hearts, revealing the mechanisms and maneuvers we employ to declare "Not My Problem!" in the face of injustice. The numerous personal stories and vignettes, drawn from Labberton's own pastoral ministry, do more than make his arguments accessible; they are essential to his enterprise, connecting us with real people on both the giving and receiving ends of distorted human vision.

Of course this terrain has been explored by other Christian writers, but this book is refreshingly different. It is thoroughly pastoral and gracious in its tone. It is deeply personal. You will find no finger-pointing here, no manipulation, no inducements to guilt. It simply presents a fair and honest discussion about how our misperceptions of others--our inability to see people as God sees them--produces the soil in which injustice grows. Nor is there a call to arms, for Labberton shows that if our hearts are the source of injustice, they too are where God seeds hope.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Labberton doesn't take long to establish his voice and capture his reader. I'm here to stay. The opening story about one average elderly lady and her encounter with a mugger is eloquently told with little asides from the author's own incredulous mind. In that first story we learn that Mark is pastor, storyteller, observer of humans, a man with perspective and a sense of humor. He honors average people and is a keen commentator. We so easily can talk about the world's mother Theresas, but Labberton throws us into a story of someone like us. I was forced or rather compelled to listen. And listen I am. I've hesitated in writing my review because I'm not done with the book yet (simultaneously reading it on my Kindle). In fact I'm taking it real slow. I think this is my 2011 book. I'm reading it with an 80 plus friend of mine, two mothers, and a group of empty nesters. I gave the book as my only gift this Christmas to friends, family, and clients. It just speaks to us all.

Mark is prophetic with the right amount of gentleness. His own journey is forward in the book and he successfully convinces us that he's not "there" yet. Yet he is the perfect guide: he has lived for years in the urban complexity of Oakland, traveled extensively to the front line, and has made his vocational commitment to justice. Mark is leading us where we need to go...to the heart of the poor. He's convinced me; there's no better place.
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Format: Hardcover
This book surprised me. The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor sat on my shelf for a few months before I finally picked it up early this year. I'll explain the two reasons I was (pleasantly) surprised, but first a word about the author. Mark Labberton served as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkley, California for sixteen years before joining the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary. Labberton is also a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission, a role that has clearly influenced how he sees the world.

What was first surprising about the book is the author's awareness of how his race and gender has affected how he sees the world. Books from Evangelical publishing houses about justice have become common recently. Many of these books have hints of paternalism around their edges or within the assumptions they make, an unfortunate result of the authors' worldviews. Labberton distinguishes himself as a white man who repeatedly reflects how his privilege and power affect him and his neighbors, both local and global.

This self-awareness leads to a palpable humility on the part of the author. Labberton shows us that injustice is not only "out there," it also exists within those our society most often privileges. This is now the book I would recommend to my white, male peers with limited experience with injustice.

The second surprise- and this surely comes from Labberton's many years spent crafting sermons- was how well the author carried his thesis through the book. The subtitle, Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus, captures the trajectory; this is a book about how difficult it is to really see those who are "other" and how injustice flourishes when we don't see.
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