Title: The God Impulse: The Power of Mercy in an Unmerciful World
Author: Jack Alexander
Genre: Christian Living
Publishing Date: July 31, 2018
About the Book:
For Jesus, truth and mercy went hand in hand. Where he preached he also healed. He didn’t outsource one or the other to biblical scholars or nonprofit ministries. He presented the truth of the gospel through his words and his actions, and he did it all in a hands-on, relational way. And the reaction was the same wherever he went–people were amazed.
Today we seem to have lost this powerful pattern of self-giving love, focusing on truth at the expense of mercy or on mercy at the expense of truth, and often failing to build genuine, lasting relationships with the people around us.
In The God Impulse, Jack Alexander helps us recover Jesus’s model, showing through biblical and modern real-life stories that God’s first impulse toward us is mercy. He then sets forth a pattern for us to follow–to see, go, do, and endure–that not only spreads truth and love to those around us who are suffering but also causes them to gasp in amazement and consider the claims of the gospel for themselves.
The God Impulse is a powerful, thought-provoking, convicting and encouraging read. In many ways it blurs the line between the definitions of mercy, compassion, and love. In truth, they all come hand-in-hand as a part of God’s character that we are able to emulate and hopefully make a part of our own character. Human nature is to think selfishly, but to be Christ-like is to put others before self.
The book defines mercy as “not getting the punishment I deserve,” or “as judgement withheld” (Pg 35), but it also says its much much more than that. I really like how the introduction makes the point that “Biblical love is truth marinated in mercy” (Pg 22). Forgive me for calling out long-time church goers (I’m including myself here), but how often are we quick to judge others who are not like us and condemn them instead of having mercy on them to draw them to Christ? When we see someone living a sinful life, do we write them off or do we go to them and plant seeds for the Lord to water? “Sometimes we need to see and feel mercy before we can see and feel truth” (Pg 82). Can I get an Amen??
The book spends a significant amount of time on the story of the good Samaritan. I find this fitting for the topic. The author shares that “the point of mercy, quite simply, is to take someone in need–someone who’s hurting or in trouble–and bring them to a place of safety. To help them to a sheltering inn like we read in the story of the Good Samaritan” (Pg 75). It’s not enough to see a person in need, but we need to then “go” and “do” for them. The Good Samaritan not only saw the man in trouble, but he tended him to his wounds, took him to a place of safety, provided for his needs, and even followed up on him. The author makes a strong point that it’s not enough to write a check to the needy. There is a relational piece that is vital to what real mercy is all about. People don’t often need to be told they are doing wrong. But when we reach out to them in love with mercy, it can do a world of wonders to help change the heart.
There is also some time spent on the truth that sometimes the more merciful thing to do is to do nothing at all. There is discernment that is needed when to reach out and when we need to step back. For example, when mercy becomes a crutch. If we help someone out and our support is abused, then in the end we aren’t really helping them. We need to have wisdom and seek the Lord’s guidance with our mercy.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am someone who will often underline and write notes in studies like this. I did a whole heap of both in this one. It shares a powerful message and practical ways of putting that message to real use in our lives. The real-life stories shared were both shocking and awe-inspiring. I felt both convicted and encouraged throughout. This is one that I would definitely recommend. It’s a great reminder for us to look to God’s Word and what it says about mercy and how as we grow in Christ, our mercy should grow as well.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Books Publishing. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.