Review by Adrian Warkentin
What is the subject?
Unity. Deidra Riggs believes that “God is inviting us to sit down face-to-face and deal with some of the stuff that keeps driving us further and further apart from one another.” She addresses aspects of our lives that drive us apart and, in the process, presents a message that God desires for us to experience unity and reconciliation.
Who is the author?
Deidra Riggs lives Lincoln, Neb. She is a national speaker, author, and blogger.
Why this book?
Recently, unity has been a theme in our church and in my personal life. In a world that seems increasingly divided and hostile (both inside and outside of the body of Christ), Riggs provides helpful and simple reflections on what divides us and how we can combat these divisions.
Comment on the book’s perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith
The book calls the reader to pay more attention to that which we as believers have in common, rather than focusing on the theological differences between us. Riggs’ calls readers to oneness by, “passing through and celebrating one another’s differences.” That said, the author’s writing broadly agrees with the MB Confession of Faith, especially in relation to the central aspects of our confession such as God, Salvation, Creation and Humanity, etc…
In Chapter Three (“What do we do about evil and injustice”), Riggs shares a metaphor from Father Mauritius Wilde about two chairs: the judgment seat and the mercy seat. We often find it easier to imagine God in the judgment seat, and so we also put ourselves in the judgement seat.
Unfortunately, humans are at risk of miscalculation, and when we miscalculate in the judgment seat, it can cause considerable damage.
Moving to the mercy seat “acknowledges the truth that only God can administer justice perfectly,” it lets “God be God,” and it reduces the risk of building up walls of division between us.
These images resonated with me personally as I find myself more comfortable in the judgment seat than in the mercy seat. The mercy seat is more difficult, leaves me open to rejection. However, the metaphor helped me to recognize that while I may make some judgments correctly, I am not able to judge others perfectly. I recognized that my judgments push me further away from others rather than closer together.
If I desire more unity in my life and in the body of Christ, then I need to let go of my judgments, move over to the mercy seat, and let God deal with the rest.
Though written with passion and self-reflection, the book feels like a series of thoughts that don’t necessarily flow together. On the other hand, this allows the reader select to any chapter and still be able to glean helpful thoughts and observations on the journey toward unity.
Other relevant information
The book includes a study guide at that end with three to four questions per chapter. These questions can be a helpful tool for personal or group reflection on the book.
Who should read it?
The author writes from a perspective of personal reflection, which makes the book accessible for all. While anyone would benefit from reading it, I would particularly recommend this book for those who are frustrated with division and a lack of unity in the body of Christ or in their own lives.
“Moving from the seat of justice and into the seat of mercy has the power to short-circuit hatred, hostility, and hopelessness. Choosing to view a person or a situation through the lens of compassion (which is another way of talking about mercy) makes space for the possibility of oneness and unity.”
“It is quite disorienting to discover that a person whose ideology, theology, or worldview we admire has a strong opinion with which we disagree. However, the more we press into this difference rather than resist it (and the person who holds that opposite viewpoint), the more we may grow to understand about God’s character.”