By Stephen Mattson
Herald Press, 2021
Hardcover: 300 pages
Reviewed by Amy Rivers
On Love and Mercy is a powerful devotional that challenges readers to be more Christ-like, despite societal norms and religious conventions, to seek justice for all people.
In his introduction, author Stephen Mattson lays bare the stigma associated with the concept of social justice and the consequences for those engaged in activism. He also is very plain about the ways in which modern Christianity and “being Christ-like” have diverged. Mattson asks that we become more Christ-like, regardless of political, religious, or societal values, and that we treat our fellow human beings as Jesus Christ would have—with love.
Each chapter is written as a daily devotional, addressing a topic related to social justice and providing meditation prompts and a topical daily prayer. The book begins with an examination of love as expressed by Jesus Christ, specifically as it is applied to our neighbors. At its core is the fundamental commandment given by Jesus: Love thy neighbor. Mattson calls us to expand our definition of neighbor to include all humanity regardless of income, education, background, religious affiliation, race, gender, and sexual orientation or expression.
Later chapters address specific social justice issues, including racism, ageism, ableism, environmentalism, and interpersonal violence. As an advocate of social justice, Mattson’s message resonated deeply with me. Readers coming from a different place may find it difficult to accept some of Mattson’s views given that he calls on us to step deliberately and boldly out of our comfort zones. He asks that we question our actions, motivations, and beliefs, and that we be willing to admit our complicity, whether intentional or not, in withholding love, mercy, and justice from our fellow man.
For me, this book was comforting despite the heaviness of the subject matter. It’s not always easy to see myself in the world of modern Christianity, and the call to be more Christ-like—to act with love—is a balm to my weary soul. Mattson gives timely examples without naming names, which may ruffle feathers on either side of the fence, but if readers will approach this book with an open and loving mind, there is much to be learned and contemplated.
In the end, Mattson’s message is simple. Social justice requires more love.
© 2022 by Christian Feminism Today.
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