Back in early July, the folks at Thomas Nelson were kind enough to send me a review copy of Richard Stearns’ new book, The Hole in Our Gospel. It has taken me this long to read and review it, not because of busyness or some other excuse, but because Stearns (the President of World Vision U.S.) is a powerful writer who truly made me consider the complacency that has long plagued American Evangelical Christianity…the complacency that has all to often plagued me in my Christian walk. His penetrating look at the living out of a truly biblical Christian faith begins in the Introduction, where he writes:
The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world…What if each of us decided with renewed commitment to truly embrace the good news, the whole gospel, and demonstrate it through our lives–not even in big ways, but in small ones?
From this starting point Stearns, who has traveled around the world encountering poverty, disease, malnutrition, neglect, and a host of other horrors at a degree few of us can imagine, challenges the Church universal, and especially wealth and resource-blessed American Evangelicals, to live out the social implication of the gospel in a completely Christ-centered way. In a way that resonates with my own disappointment with many conservative Christians, he bemoans the fact that we have largely left social ministry to theological liberals and demonstrates why this not need and should not be the case. He spends much of his book describing the sheer magnitude of social issues around the world–the very same ones addressed by Jesus in the Gospels–before showing how easily we could make a tremendous impact on the world in the name of Christ. Unlike many similar books championing social causes, Stearns is unapologetically Evangelical in his approach and places the gospel at the center at all times. Also, unlike many similar books, Stears’ writing caused me to open my eyes to the reality faced daily by countless millions around the world, truly reflect on the complacency that has worked its way into my own life, and challenge me to try to make a difference in my own neighborhood and across the globe. Any of us who have grown comfortable in our Christianity would benefit greatly from Richard Stearns’ brutally honest, powerful, and Christ-centered call to live out the faith we profess. His message needs to be heard.