Monday, April 27, 2009

The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

I joined the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers and the third book I requested and reviewed was The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.

Here is the blurb that interested me enough to finish Christianity in Crisis so I could review it and request this one.

“Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary.” - St. Francis of Assisi

It’s 1998 and Richard Stearns’ heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda. His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa. It took answering God’s call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America’s finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.

This book has been as earth shaking for me as I believed it would be. Rich Stearns presents reasons for why he believes we have a “hole in our gospel” if our faith has no outward expression, specifically changing the world we live in where we see poverty and suffering. He begins the book describing his journey from disadvantaged youth to president of a luxury goods corporation to president of World Vision and how his faith grew and he grew until he was able to accept the job at World Vision. These chapters challenge us to evaluate our lives and see if we are living for Christ, even in our jobs and lives as they are right now. He isn’t saying everyone has to go work for a charity organization, but that wherever our job, we should be working for God’s glory. That includes caring about the poor and needy.

Then he hits the hard part - the statistics that reflect real people. He works to convey the magnitude of the issues without losing our interest in the personal reality. Then he can get into the joyful news that we can all make a difference. He addresses a section to the Church and the critical question of why the church hasn’t reached out more. This is not aimed at pastors, but the members, all of us who have failed to stand up and address the disparity between rich and poor in this day and age.

I think he’s telling us that if we give and it doesn’t hurt (isn’t a sacrifice) we haven’t really lived our faith. We are commanded to reach out to the homeless and help the widows and orphans in their distress. We are committing sins of omission in all the things we do not do. Is the church more comfortable holding to the traditions of men than in challenging the injustices in the world? We need faith and works, salvation and social reform.

The purpose and method of the book is clear and well done. I recommend it, with a warning - you will be convicted, even made uncomfortable by what he says. That’s good news, and you can live out the whole gospel.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for commenting on Rich Stearns’ new book, The Hole in Our Gospel. This book has already had a tremendous impact on many Christians. Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Church, just bought 10,000 copies of the book to give to his congregation. Hybels told his church, “This is one of the finest books I have ever read. It is my goal to get every member of Willow Creek Church to read it.” To find out more information about the book and Stearns, you can visit www.theholeinourgospel.com. You’ll find on this site a lot of great resources and supplemental material to the book. You can also read Rich’s blog and engage in a forum discussion there. It’s a fantastic site – I encourage you to check it out!

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