Keri Wyatt Kent, a Chicago-based author known for her writing on spiritual formation, wants her most recent book, Simple Compassion, to connect readers' inner world to the larger world and its need for justice seekers. In each of the book's 52 devotions, Kent provides Compassion Steps (looking inward) and Community Steps (providing tips for group discussion and outreach efforts). In the end, Kent says, she wants her readers to remember the small but effective steps they can take to serve Christ in others. Christianity Today intern Elissa Cooper recently spoke with Kent.

How does Simple Compassion relate to your other books?

My other books are about spiritual formation—about connecting your faith with everyday life. If we are being formed in the image of Christ, then we have to look at what Christ was like. He was a compassionate person. He reached across social lines, he associated with people who were poor, and he associated with people of different social standings than him. If we are being formed in the image of Christ, then we are developing a heart for the poor and for those on the margins of society. Compassion is the logical next step in spiritual formation.

What exactly is compassion, and why is it so challenging?

Compassion is caring about the welfare of someone else as much as you care about your own welfare, which is what Jesus calls us to do. It's challenging because we are naturally hardwired to look out for ourselves. That's one thing we in 21st-century America have lost sight of: the Christian life is not the life of health and wealth and ease. It's challenging to live a life of compassion, but I think it's more rewarding, just like anything that's challenging.

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