“Whoever claims to walk in him must walk as Jesus did.”
This is the plea of Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations. I loved the book and it’s call to understand the Biblical mandate to help the poor. As the book articulates, and as every person in our youth group (should!) understand, there are over 2,000 verses that deal with poverty and justice. That’s a lot of time for our inspired, Holy Book to talk about something. I think it’s safe to assume this is critically important.
If I were writing a formal endorsement for this book, it would read something like:
“The Hole in Our Gospel” reads with inspiring, personal stories that are uniquely interwoven with profound, Biblical truth and analysis.
The book correctly identifies Jesus’ mission statement in the Bible:
I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.
To expand upon Jesus’ mission statement, “The Hole in Our Gospel” goes on to paint the beautiful story in Luke 4 where news about Jesus was beginning to spread throughout the whole countryside. When Jesus heads to the place where he grew up in Nazareth, he went into the synagogue and stood up to read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the opressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Then, Jesus rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant who had given it to him to read. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'” (Luke 4).
Jesus is the good news to the poor, but it goes deeper than just providing for spiritual needs. Richard Stearns is consistent throughout the book in breaking down Scriptures in helpful, tangible ways while keeping it deeply personal.
Here are some highlights:
We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul but now don’t believe He can change the world.
“When we say that we want to be His disciple, yet attach a list of conditions, Jesus refuses to accept our terms. His terms involve unconditional surrender” (see Mark 8:34-36).
The first Reformation … was about creeds; this one’s going to be about our deeds. The first one divided the church; this time it will unify the church. -Rick Warren
“Christianity was meant to be spread, but not through coercion. God’s love was intended to be demonstrated, not dictated.”
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them for the hand of the wicked. -Psalm 82:3-4
“God can’t give you the blessings He has for you until you first put down the other things you are clutching in your hands.”
“In our evangelical efforts to make the good news accessible and simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of “fire insurance” that one can buy.”
“What if I had been born in Sudan or Bangladesh?” -Richard Stearns (asking a question each blessed person in America needs to wrestle with).
World Income Statistics:
Less than $2 per day = 2.6 Billion people (40% of the world’s population)
Less than $1 per day = 1.0 Billion people (15% of the world’s population)
$105 a day (U.S.A. average) = 0.3 Billion people (4.5% of the world’s population)
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” -Helen Keller
“[Often times,] giving things to the poor does much more to make the giver feel good than it does to fundamentally address and improve the condition of those in need.”
“He who is dying of hunger must be fed rather than taught.” -St. Thomas Aquinas
The stories throughout the book are heartbreaking. Richard Stearns talks about Haiti (even before the Earthquake or cholera) and tells the story of Placide Simone. At 29, she offered one of her five offspring to a stranger, saying, “Take one” while holding her listless baby and motioning toward four rail-thin toddlers, none of whom had eaten that day. “You pick. Just feed them.”
So what is the Hole in our Gospel? You’ll have to read the book to find out exactly.
BUT. Because this book was so helpful in shifting my own personal perspective in helping to care for those in need (both locally and globally), I am giving the opportunity for you to win ONE OF 3 COPIES OF THE BOOK FOR FREE! It is the paperback version of the book, and I will even mail it to you for free. This book is that important.