Last week I was challenged by a church planter who said, “we need to have a theology of conversion along with a theology of compassion.”
This statement struck a cord with me.
Jesus clearly articulated a theology of conversion. Matthew records Jesus as beginning his ministry with the statement, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Repentance is a key component to conversion.
We also see Jesus, all throughout the Gospels, living a life of compassion. Jesus met the physical and spiritual needs of those he encountered in his mission on Earth. A statement such as “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) demonstrates Jesus’ sense of compassion.
Without the theology of compassion, it is unlikely that non-believers will be willing to hear our theology of conversion. Jesus met the obvious need while pointing to the greater need. The greater need being a restored relationship with God. For example, in John 4:7-15, Jesus turned a conversation about water (an essential need) into a conversation about eternal life.
To live out a theology of compassion without pointing to the need for conversion provides short term relief but ignores the eternal. If Jesus is who he said he is and if what he said about eternity is correct, then the stakes are very high and the eternal destiny of of those to whom we minister should weigh heavily in how we minister.
Both the theology of compassion and the theology of conversion must be operational for effective ministry to take place (Tweet This).