Richard Stearns is the President of World Vision US. In ‘The Hole in Our Gospel’ he tells his own story of faith and of the journey from being a corporate CEO of a luxury tableware company to President of World Vision. Together with this, and out of it, the book looks at the terrible needs in the world today, the disparity of rich and poor, and what the church is (or not) doing about it.
An excellent balance of personal testimony, world statistics and examining what it means to live a gospel without a hole in it makes for a potentially life changing book. Much of what Stearns says resonates with my own thoughts and growing determination that world-changing is necessary – and indeed expected of those of us who have been given much. Because we have been given much. The difference between a wealthy Western church and a struggling congregation in the developing world is vast – too vast.
Stearns looks at passages which have been dwelling on my heart lately – the parable of the sheep and the goats, the trees bearing good fruit – passages which show us that to be followers of Jesus means to act differently in our world – to actively engage in issues of poverty and injustice. And on the whole, the Western church is failing. (Stearns is particularly addressing American churches in his book, but the principles carry to the rest of us too.)
What kind of world would we have if we acted on the words of Jesus? What kind of life could be given to those in extreme poverty if the Christians of the world decided to give it their all (which is what they’ve always been called to do.) My post yesterday talked about the problems of safe drinking water. Do you realise that we can eliminate this problem if we worked together to do so – if we all lived the whole gospel, in our actions and words and giving? This book provokes a sense of shame – a healthy one. Stearns outlines what is needed for change, and shows that it is within easy reach. And yet we choose not to act. It doesn’t even occur to us we are not doing enough.
We’ve made the Christian gospel about a ‘one ticket to salvation’ faith. And that is a gospel with a gaping hole in it. It is so much bigger, brighter, better, more compassionate, fuller, more intensely-world-changing than we have made it.
We are indeed saved by faith – but we are saved for works. ‘Show me your faith without works!’ said James in his letter (it’s in the New Testament). The two were never meant to be separated. True faith works – works to change the world. Stearns talks about becoming ‘radioactive’ – absorbing gospel ‘radiation’ until that day it all clicks. We can no longer ignore the call to a whole gospel. We go radioactive.
It’s impossible to encapsulate all the information in this book. These are just some of the thoughts that have come out of my reading it.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.