“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.” This, Jesus tells us, is the greatest commandment. Implicit in it is the message that propels us out to the ends of the earth, news as simple as it is good: God so loves the world that he gave his only Son as a sacrifice for our sins, and he invites us into a saving relationship with him.
“The second commandment,” Jesus goes on, “is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If the first commandment is simple, the second one gets a little tricky. Sometimes it seems like we’re loving our neighbor in our random acts of kindness, but in reality we’re making things worse for them. And sometimes we lose sight of what’s distinctly Christian about our ministries of mercy; our acts of love move our neighbors no closer to the loving God who calls them to repentance.
In Reforming Mercy Ministry Ted Rivera identifies thirty-three ways we can engage the world with Christian compassion. And he offers fresh insight into our impulse to help, so that we do more good than harm. All the while he keeps the second great commandment close to the first: we love our neighbors, Rivera reminds us, because God first loved us—and because God loves our neighbors more than we do.
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