“Many so-called Christians are no longer for compassion; the brokenness of the world does not break them. These Christians would prefer to picket all of the world’s problems. They want to be known more for what they’re against rather than what they are for. They carry hate around like a weapon ready to destroy whoever is in their way. In their eyes, the world is black and white, and if you’re on the wrong side, or even in the middle, you’re an enemy not worthy of compassion until you conform to their views. They don’t care about solving problems by showing love, having compassion, and seeking justice.
Often we Christians have become such bad news to those outside of our faith that they cannot even fathom that we serve a gracious God who is full of compassion. In our fight for truth, we have covered up grace. For many, you have to be fully right or you are fully out. But those people are not my people, and those people are not God’s people!”
– Chris Marlow, Doing Simple is Good, p. 106-107
After reading all 204 pages, these are the words I keep thinking about. I don’t want to be known as the graceless so-called Christian who stood against everything and stood for no one. I don’t want to be the person who goes to church and says she loves Jesus, yet lives like she doesn’t know the first thing about him.
Jesus healed, fed, wept over, and died for everyone. He touched the unclean. He befriended liars. He broke bread with sinners. As Marlow says in reference to Matthew 9:36, “Jesus had compassion on the crowd. He could sense their pain and suffering. He did not demand them to change or be different (in this moment). He did not even have an opinion on why they were suffering. He just had compassion.”
Jesus loved first. He didn’t ask the sinners to repent before he loved them. If the King of Kings could do this, I know we can too. Instead of hating everyone of a different opinion or political party or lifestyle, we can love them. We can show compassion for their brokenness, their pain, their illness, or their poverty. I’m as broken as anyone, but my family and my church still love me. My God still loves me. Because I have been loved first, I must love. Because I have been given life, I must give life. Because I have been shown compassion, I must show compassion – even to my enemies.
I have to be honest; I didn’t expect this from Marlow’s book. In the first four chapters, I read about how doing good is not always easy, but it is always simple. I read about how ordinary people can make significant changes in the world by using the gifts, skills, and resources they already have in more creative ways. Rather than feel helpless and throw up our hands, we can do small things that actually help the orphans, the hungry, the slaves. This is such good news! Isn’t this what we all want to hear? That we can really make a difference? That even if we aren’t called to be the CEO, the visionary, or the entrepreneur, our lives are still useful and needed?
Believe me, all of that made made the book powerful enough. I circled and underlined a bunch. But, beginning with chapter 5, “Not Just Good on Paper: Good is People, Not Projects,” Marlow jumps my toes. He challenges me to remember all people are loved by God, and my life will not demonstrate this Truth if I profess to be a Christian but don’t show love:
We can prove truth by showing grace and being broken to a point where our compassion is so deep, our love is so strong, our willingness to lay down our lives for our neighbor, a stranger, the orphan, widow, or alien is so evident that folks have no possible way to avoid a love so deep and meaningful. They must face it head-on.
My prayer is that each of you, my loved ones and my readers, will join me as I renew my resolve to follow Micah 6:8 – do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. I am not suggesting we loosen our morals, but rather that we show the world why we have morals in the first place. There’s a Man behind our why, and his name is Jesus. Madeleine L’Engle wrote in 1980 that “perhaps for our day the best translation of love is the name of Jesus, and that will tell us everything about love we need to know.”
* I recommend Chris Marlow’s book, Doing Good is Simple, which will be available for purchase on August 2. I know you’ll be blessed, inspired, and moved to action. I am not compensated for my recommendation. I did receive an advance copy to review.