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Monday, April 7, 2014

"Uncovered" (Rod Tucker)

TITLE: Uncovered: The Truth about Honesty and Community
AUTHOR: Rod Tucker
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, Kregel Publications, 2014, (160 pages).

We have all heard about the accusations. "Hypocrites! Bigots! False religion!" These words sting the Church at large, especially those who had been hurt before in Church settings. What is the underlying problem in such labeling of deception and false images? Why is the Church having such an image problem? Is there hope for Christianity? For author and founding pastor of The River:pm in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the answer is in learning to uncover ourselves to be honest and authentic with people. Discipleship is very much about revealing our true selves. As one who has observed the heightened external activities of well-meaning Christians, Tucker has noticed something more sinister in the general spirituality of the Christian. Dishonesty. Dishonest with the self. Dishonesty within the Church. Dishonesty beyond.

Tucker knows biblically that honesty is a healing balm, a "kiss on the lips." At the same time, he knows that many people shy away from openness due to the need to protect themselves from being hurt. Just like the behaviour of Adam and Eve after they sinned at the Garden of Eden, we too exhibit the same kind of behaviour that sews fig leaves to hide ourselves. When caught, we assign blame to others. As our relationship with God gets broken, our relationships with one another break down too. In Christ, we learn that honesty is more about being like Jesus and less about selective hiding and revealing. In hiding, we huddle behind in the dark. In honesty, we step out into the light.

Part Two of the book on community is a tough one as Tucker shares about how some churches teach bad theology that links sickness directly with sin. While it is important to be honest, it is also necessary to be theologically sound. He touches on the difficult problem of homosexuality and the Church where multiple versions of honesty have led to breakups and contentions within the community.The problem lies in how the issues are handled rather than the what of contention. He notes that "we always look for someone worse than we are so that we can feel better about ourselves" is a strong indictment that can be controversial. For Tucker, the point is that if we do not experience communal honesty, we cannot experience "grace-filled fellowship." For honesty is a cost that we cannot use cheap change such as the easiest way out. We cannot pick and choose who we are honest with.

Part Three gives us tips on how to go about uncovering ourselves. Through mirrors, we are reminded that too much self-consciousness can be a bane. At the same time, insufficient reflection and honesty about ourselves can be a barrier. We begin by seeing ourselves being saved by God, reconciled to God, and renewed in Christ. The encouragement for all of us is that honesty is not a self-driven enterprise. It is a gift of God in Christ. It is an act of grace. Our task of growing in honesty is a response to this grace.

As a reminder, this book reaffirms the need for Christians to be authentic with themselves, with others, and within the Church. It is a direct reversal from the lifestyle of sinful Adam and Eve, toward a lifestyle that is centered on Jesus Christ. As a honesty primer, we learn to see ourselves honestly with a mirror, and then to put that mirror aside in order to present ourselves to others, honest in Christ. The book is not strong in the "how to" department. Instead, it is more beneficial in the "what-if" we begin the path to honesty. By planting the seed of honesty and readiness to be open, Tucker is urging more of us to be honest in everything we do. More importantly, the truth about honesty and community is to know that we cannot do it all alone. We need God. We need the grace of people. We need to boldness in Jesus.

Rating: 3.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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