We live in a special time. One can roll out of bed and immediately enter a battle. Not to make light of true battles, these are merely any number of social media arguments and debates. The internet has brought people closer together for both good and ill. We now can share pictures with family. We also can now know all the ways in which we disagree with people. We now have unique opportunities for both unity and disunity. Today's emphasis seems to be that the internet is ripe with opportunity to find someone and argue over the truth.
In this mindset, Joshua Mack's Compassion: Seeing with Jesus' Eyes from P&R Publishing seems like a timely offering. The subtitle itself caught my attention since I had once penned something titled "The Eyes of Jesus" — don't worry, Mack's stuff is much better. Before writing a formal review, I want to highlight some good quotes from the early pages of the booklet,
"Without compassion, no matter how right you are in what you're saying, you are wrong in how you are acting." (5)
I can't even count the number of times I learned this the hard way serving as an elder. When you are not invested in people, all disagreement, correction, and praise are "wrong." It is amazing how blind we can be to the depth of our compassion for others. But Mack smartly points out that others are always able to tell. Compassion — not merely being polite — is the foundational stone of Christ's humbling ministry in His incarnation and death. As followers of Him, compassion is as essential to our relationships as truth,
"Certainly, there are people who minimize the importance of truth. But there are also many who minimize the importance of caring about people. And sometimes the very people who say they are most serious about truth seem to be the least serious about the truths that the Bible teaches about showing compassion to others." (8)
I particularly appreciate how Mack reflects here on the extremes of truth and compassion. The gospel is offensive. Truth is important. But the Biblical truth that we seek to defend also is clear in its instruction to love one another and pray for our enemies. All of these are reflections of Christ who came to earth — not for friends but for enemies. As defenders of truth, we must be quick to defend the necessity of compassion in our communication with others. Mack's Compassion: Seeing with Jesus' Eyes certainly helps the church do that. He does so with stern words as well,
"You serve a savior whose heart was broken by the needs of people. And whose body was broken for their good. Something is broken in your heart if you say you are passionate about the truth while being uncompassionate towards people." (12)
How can you not just absolutely love that quote? I can't add a thing.