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The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, Thomas Nelson, 2009.

I have a confession to make. Two, actually. First, I wanted to read this book because the publisher was distributing free copies to bloggers who would review it. I love books, though I tend to collect them more readily than I read them. It took me five months to finish this book, but that is not a reflection of the book itself, but rather the chaos in my life.

The second confession is that I struggled with the theme of the book. I knew it would be a challenging, convicting book. Like vegetables, I knew it would be good for me, but I wasn’t terribly exciting about willingly submitting myself to conviction! Madeleine Albright’s said it so well:

Richard Stearns inspires us as individuals to reconsider our basic decisions about life. How we respond will do much to influence our fate—and the world’s.

This is a book that I needed to read. I’m quite sure you need it, too, particularly if you consider yourself to be a follower of Jesus yet you find yourself endlessly pursuing those things that bring you comfort and convenience, viewing others and their needs on occasion to ease your conscience. That describes my life, anyhow. Why does it seem that Christmastime kettles and bells are not a year-round fixture in our culture, reminding us every day that there are needs far greater than our own?

It would be easy to dismiss this book as a 300-page guilt trip. After all, it is written by the president of one of the largest charities in the world, World Vision. It could’ve been crafted as a lengthy, eloquent appeal for child sponsorship, yet such action is barely mentioned. Instead, Stearns shares his own story, from a successful career as a marketplace CEO to a shocking invitation to serve in the non-profit sector. The autobiographical chapters are authentic and revealing. Stearns’ honest reflections quickly remove any pedestal upon which one might be tempted to place him.

As the cover’s contents suggest, this volume challenges the western notion that the Gospel is about praying a prayer, having your sins forgiven, and waiting for the return of Jesus. While it is true that Paul clearly stated that we are saved by faith and not our works in Ephesians 2:8-9, he curiously mentions the evidence of works in verse ten as a sign of true Gospel experience. In other words, faith without works
is dead. Followers of Jesus are required to do just that—follow. We don’t need WWJD bracelets to recognize that Jesus cares deeply for the poor, and what we do to them we literally do to Him. The good news is all about Jesus, but it must be shared and expressed not only with words, but action.

While I am tempted to use this space to summarize key thoughts and memorable quotes, let me close by encouraging you to read this powerful book. It will remind you of your blessings. It will inspire you toward tangible change. If you are not challenged to action and drawn to the heart of the Father through these pages, let me know and I’ll sponsor a World Vision child on your behalf!