In an increasingly divided society, New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin is challenging Christians to demonstrate Christ-like forgiveness — an act he believes has the power to “turn the world upside-down,” just like the first century believers.
“What if we just forgave everybody, for everything, for all time, the same way Jesus forgives us?’” he said in an interview with The Christian Post. “What if we forgave people who didn't deserve it? What if we forgive people who are currently sinning against us? What if we forgave, and then walked out in the sacrificial love of Jesus? If we did that, I believe the world would look really different.”
A seasoned writer, Martin has written over 14 novels over the span of his 20-year career. His books have reached millions, with the 2011 romance-disaster novel The Mountain Between Us turned into a movie in 2017, featuring major Hollywood stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.
But while working on his 2016 fiction book titled Long Way Gone, Martin felt God calling him to use his gifts to “push pause on fiction and tell the story of you and me.”
“So I decided to write the story of me and the Lord and what He’s taught me through His Word,” he shared.
In 2019, Martin released his first non-fiction book, What If It’s True?. Later this month, he’ll release the follow-up, They Turned the World Upside Down: A Storyteller’s Journey with Those Who Dared Follow Jesus.
The bestselling author told CP that his latest book examines what radical faith looked like in biblical times and what it looks like in 2021, drawing from the lives and examples of Jesus' disciples.
“I previously examined what our lives would look like if we really believed Jesus gave us His authority and power,” he said. “Now, I’m looking at how the faith and obedience of Jesus’ followers changed the world.”
In his book, Martin follows the disciples as they follow Jesus’ instruction to spread the message of the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. From the Mount of Olives — where Jesus ascended to Heaven — to Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica, the book looks at those who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) for the sake of the Gospel.
“This is a movement that traveled 1,000 miles northwest of Jerusalem into the town of Thessalonica,” Martin said. “What did the Lord do in these people? This book is about their unbelief and how God moved them to belief — not just a belief that He is King, but also a belief in His Kingdom.”
The author shares stories from his own life as a disciple, along with pivotal moments from Scripture, to encourage readers to engage with their faith in a new and inspiring way.
“Every time I walk into God’s presence and I'm honest about the stuff that I bring with me, I feel like God looks at the places where my heart is hardened, callous, and unforgiving, and He says, ‘Wil you let me have that? Will you let me take it away from you? You must forgive these people. They’re broken, just like you. Now, love them.’”
Martin clarified he’s not “telling people to be a doormat,” adding: “Abuse, sin, and other issues need to be confronted and addressed, but as far as our response to people, our love should be stronger than their hate.”
In his book, Martin encourages readers to “get bloodied” — referencing 1 John 1:7, which says it's the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
“We as Christians talk about the blood of Jesus but we leave it in the bowl, we don't ever do anything with it,” he said.
“I'm trying to challenge people to step into the priesthood that the Lord has given them to actually believe that what Jesus did on the cross, He is still doing today. He's still cleansing. still forgiving, still breaking chains, still waking people up to the Father.”
If Jesus’ followers truly believe that what He said is true, their lives will demonstrate world-changing faith,” Martin contended. He pointed out that the apostles loved Jesus so greatly, they were willing to lose their lives for the Gospel.
“If we as believers would just look at the burdens we’re carrying, the anger, the unforgiveness, and give them to the Lord and walk in forgiveness and repentance, it would turn this world upside down.”