Compassion and the Mission of God
Revealing the Invisible Kingdom
Why does God care for the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized?
This book traces God’s compassion as it is revealed in the Old and New Testaments, exploring the expression and impact of compassion in the early church through its actions and teachings as part of its witness. Focusing on the church’s responsibility to be compassionate, Dr Rupen Das underlines the theological and missiological questions central to any discussion on the compassion of God. Culminating with how compassion is lived out by God’s people, the book looks at concepts of transformation and the demonstration of the kingdom of God in the real world. This book provides an excellent biblical and theological foundation for anyone involved or interested in ministries of social justice, relief, development and compassion.
Rupen Das, in a sweeping analysis that encompasses a thorough study of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the history of the early church, shows in a clear, compelling and fresh way God’s concern for the poor and why, for us Christians, there is no alternative but to bear witnesses of our Lord Jesus by showing compassion to those in need. It is the most comprehensive book I have seen about this ever so relevant topic. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Director for Latin America, Lausanne Movement;
Director of Martureo, Brazilian Center for Missiological Reflection
Where does caring for the poor belong in the gospel message? Rupen Das does his best to let the material – early evidence of societies and leaders caring for the poor, the Old Testament, Jesus and the early church – speak for itself. While the Christian church is growing in its concern for the poor, this book is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to understand the firm foundation for a gospel that embraces salvation, compassion and justice.
President and CEO, World Vision Canada
Rupen Das grounds biblical and theological reflections in the context of hunger, civil violence, extreme poverty and oppression. He argues that mission organizations often express a limited grasp of God’s compassion and commitment to restore dignity, justice and meaning to human lives. The chapters on transformation and witness will be valuable for Christians who minister both in places of affluence and in the marginal areas of the world.
Former director of the Sharing Way, Canadian Baptist Ministries
Born from the heart of a person passionately committed to the practice of compassion, this book gives a rigorous theological case for why followers of Jesus must live out their faith in acts of service with others. In the process, Rupen Das offers us a wonderful and useful overview of the wide sweep of Christian thought through the ages on this topic. He inspires us to be people of compassion, and to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is God’s desire for us.
Director of Leadership Development,
Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ)
Rupen Das invites us to engage with the issues of society as a way of living out our faith, and his invitation is based on a strong theological conviction – God’s Word calls on all disciples to identify with the pathos of God – his compassion for lostness and brokenness in the world. In this excellent book, he has clarified for us an ethic for working with the poor, something that has been in the Bible all along.
Fong Choon Sam
Lecturer in Missions and Dean of Academic Studies,
Baptist Theological Seminary, Singapore
Through a refreshing historical and theological walk, Compassion and the Mission of God will inspire reflection and prayerful action to follow the saints in doing justice, loving mercy, and walking with God. Don’t pick this book up if you want to remain comfortable – its insights will pull the blinders off and challenge you to new vistas of thought and practice too often buried and forgotten in our churches today.
Senior Director, Emergency Response, Food for the Hungry
This book brings together in-depth studies on socioeconomic structures of biblical and early Christian times, contemporary theological discussion, and the author’s personal passion around the issues of poverty, injustice and compassion. . . If the reader will allow the book to shape his/her understanding on Christian mission, the kingdom of God will grow in the world.
Assistant General Secretary, European Baptist Federation
Rupen Das writes from a wealth of experience in a wide variety of cultures in some of the most challenging situations of the world. He unpacks the social and historical contexts of biblical teaching on poverty in order to answer the “why” questions – why does the Bible say what it does about poverty and the poor? Why does God care for the poor and why should we in turn? Why is compassion important? He also draws from literature and missions to make this writing a compelling read for those who want to make a sustained and effective difference in a starkly polarized world.
Regional Field Director, The Navigators of Canada
Rupen Das writes with insight drawn from deep biblical reflection rooted in significant personal experience of seeking to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to the poor and marginalized. The book not only challenges the individual Christian, but also the church community to engage actively and compassionately in being good news for the poor. In our broken world this is a vital message for us all to hear.
Director for Mission, BMS World Mission
Out of necessity I have had to find writers who legitimize the personal undoing that occurs as I work toward embracing and engaging in compassion and the mission of God in our incredibly broken world. Dr Das’ book Compassion and the Mission of God has given me helpful “tracks” to run on. These tracks are travel-worthy for every serious citizen of the kingdom who longs to be caught up in the work of the kingdom of God with all its promise and real transforming potential yet without sticking one’s head in the sand. Compassion and the Mission of God alerts the kingdom worker to the religious and secular lenses we each employ with conviction that inevitably take us somewhere in our responses. This path of response is sobering if the place it takes us is not toward compassion in Jesus’ name.
Mission Facilitator, Emmanuel International Canada
Evangelicals, at least in the North American context, have tended to think of the gospel almost exclusively in terms of personal salvation. Further, that salvation has been defined largely, if not exclusively, in terms of a future entrance into heaven with little or no emphasis on a meaningful participation in ushering in the kingdom of God that Jesus announced, right here and now, and in a way that makes the gospel good news for the poor in a specific economic, sociological and political context, especially one that is hostile to Jesus and Christianity. The “already but not yet tension” has largely been absent from evangelical experience, if not in theology. This book is a much-needed corrective call to both mind and heart.
Senior Pastor, Rexdale Alliance Church
Today, we live in chaos, crisis, and with challenges. Many people are wondering how to address the multiple faces of increasing poverty and conflicts. In this book Rupen Das has wrestled with these hard questions for about forty years with his academic pens and practical pains from theological, biblical, historical, missiological, and especially sociological perspectives. While easily understood it is also powerful and inspirational. As you read it, you can feel the heartbeat of compassion of God.
Matthew (Keung-Chul) Jeong
Ambassador of Interserve International
Table of Contents
- 1 - Introduction
- 2 - Issues That Frame the Discussion on Compassion
- 3 -The Biblical Basis to Understand the Poor and Poverty: The Old Testament
- 4 - The Biblical Basis to Understand the Poor and Poverty: The Gospels
- 5 - Teachings and Practices of the Early Church: The New Testament and Church History
- 6 - Theological Challenges
- 7 - Healing the Divide
- 8 - Transformation or Witness: The Challenge of Transformation
- 9 - Transformation or Witness: Being a Witness
- 10 - The Face of Compassion
- 11 - Conclusion: A God of Compassion