The Hole In Our Gospel (book review)

Hole In Our Gospel, The coverWhen I first heard the title of Richard Stearns’ book—The Hole In Our Gospel—a thought crept into my mind. When I read on the back cover the phrase “to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world,” I was convinced: I just knew this book was going to be a guilt trip.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!

“The idea behind The Hole In Our Gospel is quite simple. It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or 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,” writes Stearns as he introduces his book.

Using his life as a personal example, and presenting a stark but realistic picture of the suffering humanity in the world today, Stearns challenged me to look outside my own paradigm. I’ve seen the infomercials about sponsoring a child, and I keep abreast of the latest calamities in the world, but Stearns presents these sobering facts in a way that made me want to do something. Stearns quoted his friend Gary Gulbranson, “It’s not what you believe that counts; it’s what you believe enough to do.”

The other thing I wrongly assumed from the cover of this book was that the problems facing us were so huge, that even if I got involved little would change. Instead, Stearns showed me practical ways to help.

Far from being a “downer” or a guilt-trip, I found this book to paint an exciting picture of what was possible if I would just get involved. I could begin to imagine a world in which humanity was better off because I was in it.

Don’t shy away from this book just because it’s written by the president of World Vision: you will not read a single “commercial” or appeal to donate to World Vision or sponsor a child. But you will be changed. You will be challenged. On the closing page, Stearns asks a poignant question: “And when you close this book, what will you do now?”

I’m going to get involved.

Tell Better Stories

People often ask me why I read so much, or even why I read the things I read. I like to read widely: classics to contemporary, history to biographies, and even a little poetry.

Tim Sanders wrote a book called Love Is The Killer App. In this wonderful book, he says that reading and studying should be motivated by love. We read and learn so that we can be informed enough to help others who are in need. Not reading just to read, but reading with a purpose. Reading to help tell someone a story. I haven’t found a book that does this better than the Bible.

The world’s greatest storyteller (ever!) was Jesus of Nazareth. Check this out:

With many stories like these, He presented His message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when He spoke (Mark 4:33-34, The Message).

Jesus could tell a story to anyone at any time. He learned, He studied, He observed, so He would always be ready. He frequently used whatever was at hand to tell His stories—a child, a farmer, fish, bread made with yeast, a coin, a bridal party—but He had to know something about each of those things in order for His stories to be effective for each person’s “experience and maturity.”

Once Jesus encountered a man so demonized that he spent his life naked and living in the graveyard (my friend Jim Wiegand calls him “the naked, cat-eating guy”!). Jesus set this man free from his demons. When this newly-freed man wanted to accompany Jesus, He told him, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story” (Mark 5:19, The Message).

Tell them YOUR story.

The best story you can tell is your story.

It’s wonderful to read to be informed—I highly encourage this. I love to be able to say, “Benjamin Franklin said…” or “I love the Longfellow poem about…” or “Stephen Covey wrote that we should….” But it’s so much more effective to say, “Here’s what I have learned from my personal encounter with Jesus. Here’s MY story of what Jesus did for me!”

What about you? Do you have a story to tell? If you’re in a relationship with Jesus, you always have a story to tell. Keep walking with Jesus. Keep reading His love letter to you written on every page of the Bible. Then tell YOUR story—the best story of all!

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