As part of the Booksneeze program from Thomas Nelson, I received a copy of Richard Stearns’ book, The Hole in Our Gospel, for review.
In The Hole in Our Gospel, Richard Stearns describes his journey from corporate CEO to following Jesus into the poorest corners of the world. Stearns currently serves as president of World Vision US.
In the introduction, Stearns writes:
Being a follower of Jesus Christ requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world. If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith – and mine – has a hole in it.
Stearns shares his honest struggle to answer Jesus’ calling to serve the least among us, but also describes the joy we find in giving our lives away for the sake of others.
I appreciated Stearns’ discussion about compassion fatigue — in fighting injustice, it is easy to become discouraged or worn out. The problems of the world and the apathy of people around us can be overwhelming. As Stearns writes, in this struggle, “to sustain the level of brokenheartedness and caring required to press ahead year after year in this work of loving the poor” we must connect with the heart of God, His compassion for the world and precious care for each individual in it.
I was challenged, and disturbed, by the statistics Stearns lays out about our money as American Christians. For example, Americans spend $705 billion on entertainment and recreation per year. If the American church committed to tithe, it would mean $168 billion in funds. This money could literally change the world:
- $65 billion could eliminate the most extreme poverty on the planet for more than a billion people
- $6 billion could pay for universal primary education
- $9 billion could bring clean water to most of the world’s poor
- $13 billion could bring basic health and nutrition to everyone in the world
Stearns is a realist, though, and he concludes with a chapter entitled, “A Mountain of Mustard Seeds.” In the face of the enormity of the world’s injustice, we might either be tempted to give up or dive in with naive enthusiasm (and then burn out). Stearns builds on the well-known words of Mother Teresa, We can do no great things, only small things with great love:
It starts with you. In the end, God simply calls you to be faithful to the things He has given you to do. He doesn’t require you to be a superstar, just faithful and obedient, by praying, loving, serving, giving, forgiving, healing, and caring – doing small things with great love.