For much loved pastor, author and scholar, Timothy J. Keller, death was not the end but a new beginning. He passed away on May 19, 2023, looking forward to being united with His Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The legacy he leaves behind is one of great impact and service.
25 May, 2023
Along with his family, Tim founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1989, which birthed fruitful ministries such as City to City, which has helped start more than 1,000 churches in over 150 cities and trained or reached more than 79,000 leaders. The author of 31 books, Tim’s words have been translated into 29 languages and sold over 6 million copies.
Tim lived a life of devotion to God and his resulting work resonated in the hearts of many people around the world. At Compassion, we have been deeply impacted by his understanding of biblical justice and generosity.
“Biblical justice is not first of all a set of bullet points or a set of rules and guidelines. It is rooted in the very character of God and it is the outworking of that character, which is never less than just.” —Timothy Keller, Justice in the Bible.
For Tim, biblical justice was the inherent outworking of God's heart for the poor, the marginalised and those on the fringes of society. He called all followers of Jesus to participate in their God-given mandate to “act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). He believed that we are all called to be good neighbours to whoever needed to receive the love and grace of Christ, thus fulfilling God’s greatest commandments to love God and to love our neighbours.
“By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need—regardless of race, politics, class, and religion—is your neighbour,” he wrote in his book Generous Justice.
“Not everyone is your brother or sister in the faith, but everyone is your neighbour, and you must love your neighbour,” says Tim Keller.
He also called the local church to pursue justice in their community wherever they were placed. Compassion partners with over 8,500 local churches around the world to empower and equip churches to be beacons of hope and generosity in their communities.
For Craig Petty, a church team manager for Compassion Australia, Tim’s encouragement to the local church was not just a theory he purported but one that he lived out in his city. “When I started connecting with Tim Keller's writings around the biblical vision for righteous relationships and restorative justice, I saw a deeper, more generous and inherently practical gospel,” says Craig.
“But it was the way that he led, bringing churches together in shared mission to their own city and beyond, living generously, that spoke the loudest.”
Tim’s body of work goes beyond just community vision and encourages individual growth and spiritual formation too. Compassion Australia’s CEO, Clare Steele, says she was personally impacted by Tim Keller through his books, particularly Every Good Endeavour. His words helped rebuild her foundations around identity and she remains grateful for his lasting vision of faith, work and service.
“Tim Keller drew me back to finding my identity in Christ outside of successes, outside of my day-to-day, and outside of the tasks that I complete,” says Clare.
“He helped me understand my life not as two separate worlds, faith and work, but as a single journey towards knowing and serving Jesus and his world more deeply.”
After seven decades of faithful love to God and his family, as well as to the people He was called to serve, Timothy J. Keller entered his eternal rest. We are grateful for his exemplary life and the legacy he leaves behind that will no doubt continue to encourage and challenge us as followers of Jesus Christ. We honour a life well lived, a race well run, and we are confident He has heard the glorious words “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
Words by Sidhara Udalagama.
All images of Timothy Keller sourced from timothykeller.com
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