Compassion and the Mission of God
Examining the both Old and New Testament, early church history and current missiological thinking, Das provides an excellent biblical and theological foundation for anyone interested in ministries of social justice, relief, development and compassion
Compassion and the Mission of God: Revealing the Invisible Kingdom
By Rupen Das
Langham Global Library
Reviewed by Philippe Ndabananiye
How essential is social justice and community transformation in your Christian faith? Do you see it as a distraction from the task of sharing the gospel or a key part of the Bible’s grand storyline?
This book demonstrates the biblical and historical basis for seeing mission as both proclamation and demonstration of the Kingdom. God cares for both individual souls and the world He has created.
Das, a consultant to the European Baptist Federation on enabling churches in Europe to respond to the refugee crisis, begins by explaining why readers may see social change as a low priority and how convictions on what the Bible teaches is heavily influenced by a person’s social background, financial status and politics.
He then takes the reader on a survey of what poverty and injustice looked like in the Old and New Testament. We explore how the people of God were called to live by a radical set of values based on the Law, and how Jesus and the early Church regularly demonstrated God’s compassion.
The bulk of the book clarifies the different debates and theological challenges that arise from different approaches to evangelism, justice, social action and community transformation.
Through it all, Das keeps a clear focus on the true source of transformation. It’s refreshing to read such a God-centred book which keeps God as the primary agent for transformation. We are left in no doubt that the fundamental starting point is God’s heart and plan for His creation, and not any strategy or set of processes devised by mankind.
The author argues that since people and society have been ruined by sin then Christ’s salvation must provide redemption for both. Inspired by the biblical revelation of a future world completely and entirely transformed by Christ, Das urges believers to play their part in bringing a taste of this in today’s communities.
Das also shares his conviction that there is continuity between the Old and New Testament people of God – both are called to embody God’s character of mercy, grace and compassion towards the broken and helpless.
That means the Church is commissioned by Christ to introduce people to the King through sharing the gospel, and changing structures marred by sin to reflect what the Kingdom of God looks like in today’s communities through acts of compassion and justice.
If nothing else, this book provides an excellent and accessible introduction to biblical theology, the sociology of the Old and New Testament, early church history and current missiological topics.
It is also well researched, citing a lot of key sources and definitions of mission concepts from the 1967 World Council of Churches, 1974 Lausanne Conference, 1983 Wheaton Consultation, to the more recent 2001 Micah Declaration.
Even if you disagree with his conclusions, there is great value at looking at this topic with fresh theological eyes rather than your preferred methods of outreach. You will be inspired as you learn the ways that God has moved consistently in history to show compassion and bring social justice through the words and actions of His Kingdom people.
Philippe Ndabananiye is part of the leadership team at Whetstone Baptist Church, Leicester, and works full-time in the leadership team at AWM Pioneers, a church-planting mission agency with a heart for reaching unchurched people groups. This review originally appeared on the AWM website, and is republished with permission