On Love and Mercy: A Social Justice Devotional – Stephen Mattson

On Love and Mercy Stephen Mattson
On Love and Mercy: A Social Justice Devotional by Stephen Mattson
Published by Herald Press on November 9, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Devotional
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A hopeful and Christ-centered devotional for Christians who know social justice to be a good and holy endeavor
On Love and Mercy is a 60-day devotional that invites readers to expand their vision of both personal faith in God and the redemptive and saving work of social action. Breaking down the premise that Christians must choose between being either socially conscious or theologically sound, author Stephen Mattson offers the hopeful message that Jesus—and Christianity—is both. Each day’s entry offers Christians who long to see justice and equity within society with a much-needed source of affirmation, solidarity, and encouragement.
These heart-felt devotions bring readers hope and encouragement to embrace social justice as the Christ-like discipline that it always was and is meant to be. On Love and Mercy validates social justice practices within the Christian faith by centering the example of Jesus as the ultimate standard.
Although our religion will fail us, Jesus never will. He walks alongside us in living out God’s commands us to love our neighbors to the best of our ability. Step into this journey and discover anew what it means to be devoted to Jesus and justice.

There are a lot of people who are coming to a realization that evangelical Christianity has to be different. More than ever, I am finding people from evangelical backgrounds who are clinging to faith but are no longer sure how to express it or define it or work it out. They’re moving toward activism but aren’t sure how to engage or how to be a blessing. If that sounds like you, On Love and Mercy should be your starting point. Mattson offers sixty days of devotions that are simple and clear. A Scripture, four or five paragraphs of reflection, a question for meditation, and a prayer. Five minutes a day to orient your thoughts toward justice. It’s a small but transformative way to change.

Mattson’s topics cover the spectrum of social justice issues. It’s not a book about racial justice only, but extends the umbrella to any oppressed people group, inviting readers to fight for the marginalized and stand in solidarity with the minority. That breadth of scope keeps him from going too deep on any one topic, but is useful in helping readers expand their perception of social justice beyond whatever facet drew them to a book on social justice. Mattson’s voice is clear, compelling, and engaging. He gets to the point quickly, makes his statement powerfully, and moves on.

Books like this are ones I usually read straight through. It’s a 60-day devotional, but I’m reading for review. I have to say that the book loses something if you use it that way. On Love and Mercy is intended to be like a conversation with a friend. I read half the book, decided it wasn’t working, so went back—and I did have to double up to finish this review by the book’s release date—and read the book how it was intended. It made all the difference. You’ll get out of this devotional what you put into it. Take it seriously, truly listen to Mattson’s words, and it’ll change you.

On Love and Mercy keeps things simple and exhortative. That’s difficult on one level because he’s dealing with complex and deep-rooted issues. There isn’t space to deal with the complexity. The result is that there’s more than enough for critics to pick and poke and prod and kill it by death of a thousand cuts. He should have done more here or there or this seems underrepresented or misrepresented or whatever. Because of the format Mattson writes, there’s no argument or apologetic, no development of ideas or progression of thought. He simply lays it all out for you to either agree with or disagree with. This sounds like it’s a criticism, but I’m trying to get at is the format of a devotional. You don’t come to a devotional to argue with it. Mattson resists the urge to defend his thoughts, rebut criticisms, or argue points. If you agree, great, listen and be encouraged. This isn’t a book that’ll convince someone that social justice is an integral part of the Gospel. But if you’ve been convinced and don’t know where to go now, On Love and Mercy is one of the most valuable books you could have.