Christianity is an outward looking faith; we love because God first loved us. God sought us while we were still sinners and poured out his love and grace for us through his son Jesus.
History is packed full of ways the great and glorious gospel of Jesus has motivated Christians to make a difference in the world around them: efforts to end slavery, to champion the education of women and children, to fight for justice and equality, to provide health care to those without means…
…but we still find it hard to reach out to the communities we live in. We still struggle to meet our neighbours; to form relationships with people we pass on the street every day. We often sense the enormity of people’s deep spiritual and physical needs while also despairing at our own inadequacy.
Is your faith locked away?
We live in a world that is growing increasingly cold towards Christianity—at least towards the type of faith we see locked away inside a church building, the type of faith that only speaks up when it has a moral issue to shout about.
The Bible warns us about this disconnected faith, a belief that is all lip-service and no action. James writes bluntly about it: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Not dying, or sick, but DEAD.
Jesus teaches a radical compassion and outward love when he shares the picture of the Good Samaritan. To those listening to this parable, the idea of a Samaritan being ‘good’ was unimaginable; yet we see a picture of someone going to extreme lengths to help someone in need. The Samaritan not only tends to the injured traveller’s immediate needs, he also provides funding for the injured man to be well cared for until he has recovered completely—he goes over and above what is expected to show compassion and mercy.
Caring for someone in need did not stop the Good Samaritan from his life and business, in fact it happened in the midst of it. The invitation at the heart of the story is to lavishly and practically love the needy in the street community, school, or workplace right where you are.
Jesus not only modelled this sort of love for us in his life, death, and resurrection, but he commands the hearer of his parable to ‘Go and do likewise’. Go, and embrace a life of radical love and compassion poured out on those around you.
This extravagant mercy should underpin our interactions and ground our faith in deeds. James refuses to separate faith and deeds, and he speaks to a culture where it is all to easy to cling to faith while neglecting the heart of mercy Jesus taught and modelled.
Looking outward isn’t optional for Christians, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. True compassion is often uncomfortable, true connection can leave us vulnerable and exposed. It is a costly sacrifice.
Yet, the Scriptures continue to point us to serve others in times of need; to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27), to do good to all people (Galatians 6:10), to live such good lives among the world that our deeds might commend the gospel of Jesus to those around us (1 Peter 2:12).
Radical mercy is not just empty action—it’s love with dirty hands and muddy feet, it’s love that points people to a God of extravagant grace and deep compassion.
By Sophia Sinclair