A review of Ben Lowe’s new book, Doing Good Without Giving Up
Social change. Whether our attempts at it involve our jobs, our church, a side project, or our way of life, the road to change can be filled with confusion and discouragement.
When we enter adulthood, our worldview expands; suddenly we feel empowered and enlightened to enact change for good.
But it’s not long before we realize that the world is complex, people are resistant to change, and God’s ways of working are beyond our understanding and expectation.
Activist and author Ben Lowe is especially qualified to speak to this often disheartening experience. In his most recent book, Doing Good Without Giving Up: Sustaining Social Action in a World That’s Hard to Change (IVP Books, September 2014), Lowe shares his experiences as a millennial trying to be faithful and maintain hope while working to be God’s hands and feet in the world. Lowe has a variety of experiences to share, from working to spread awareness for creation care, to intentionally living in a low-income refugee community, to running for election in the U.S. Congress.
In Doing Good Without Giving Up, Lowe emphasizes faithfulness. He asserts change only comes when we keep Christ our priority, even if we do not see any difference or it doesn’t happen in the way we would like. At the same time, wanting to honor God means following his commands. As Lowe explains, “Taking seriously the commands to love God and love neighbour inevitably leads to social action.”
Lowe’s approach to this journey is comprehensive. He addresses issues from the false dichotomy between Gospel-centred evangelism and social justice to the polarization between established sides of the culture wars. He also discusses personal issues such as burnout, staying healthy spiritually, and committing to community.
The strength of Lowe’s approach comes in that he does not speak theoretically or hypothetically; he speaks from practical, personal experience.
Doing Good Without Giving Up is a helpful resource for Christians seeking to engage social justice with both thought and compassion. Anyone who has been working towards social reconciliation for any amount of time will find Lowe’s anecdotes and insights relatable, encouraging, and even convicting.
As readers consider Lowe’s words, they will hear echoes of Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians: “Let us know grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Photo (Flickr CC) by Anselme Servain.