Someone close to me saw that I was reading The Hole in our Gospel and said, "Oh great, another book by some rich guy, who, after he'd made his millions, then decided to take his faith seriously..." Richard Stearns is a rich guy, who did radically change his priorities and the lifestyle his family was living, after working as a CEO of a big-wig company for many years. But when he took the position as the President of World Vision, he came to see some truths that are applicable to all followers of Christ, regardless of income or career path.
The thrust of the book is that we have a tendency to take the Gospel (the Good News, that Christ is our salvation, that His Kingdom is real and the life He offers is forever and abundant!) and mold it into what is comfortable, leaving out the parts that require surrender... leaving a gaping hole that is breaking the heart of God. In the introduction he explains that,
"the good news was meant to change the world. Belief is not enough. Worship is not enough. Personal morality is not enough. And Christian community is not enough. God has always demanded more. When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God's character--His love, justice, and mercy--through our words, actions, and behavior....Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option." (pg. 3)
The book spells out exactly what the conditions are in developing countries, what poverty looks like and how it impacts entire villages and cultures. And Stearns shows lots of ways we can begin to live out the whole gospel, in big and small ways. He tells his own story of how he was confronted with the whole gospel, when he was asked to consider the position of President of World Vision, and how he saw the hole in his own walk, despite his desire to be a fully committed Christian.
I love a section where he explores the debate over faith and works... and how he boils it down: "But faith and works were never meant to be in dichotomy.... Simply put, we are saved by faith, saved for works." (pg 198-9) Our faith is what saves us, but our works are where our faith is demonstrated. The idea of our faith being something just for us is really missing the boat.
Stearns writes honestly and it feels like you can hear his voice. He shares how he was driven to succeed, and when he became a Christian and how that changed his life. He challenges us all to look at our own stories. Who are our neighbors, and how are our lives giving them a glimpse of God's character?
I reviewed this book as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger Program. You can get more info about the program at http://brb.thomasnelson.com and more info about the book itself at http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=0785229183