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The Hole in Our Gospel

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Recently, a reader asked if I’ve read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S. I have read the book, and in fact, it was the subject of my very first blog post!

Stearns’ basic point is that there would be a humongous hole in our Gospel if you pulled out all the verses where Jesus talked about justice, poverty, the poor, and helping the orphans and widows. Stearns also says that this is basically what Christians have done.

We skip reading those chapters. We’re big into our “best life now” scenarios, and we’re big into asking how Jesus can help me in my life. We use the Bible to find out how we’re going to be better and how we’re going to excel in life with Jesus. It just gets to the point where it becomes all about me.

But how does that relate to what Jesus said: that all the law can be summed up in love your neighbor as yourself? In our “best life now” scenarios, we lose that. We’re not loving our neighbor.

Part of the problem is that we think it’s too hard. When you read statistics on poverty, you don’t feel like you can help. When you read how bad these issues are, everywhere in the world, you wonder, “What can my one dollar really do? Or my fifty cents, or my five dollars, or even my five hundred dollars?”

Stearns writes about this with real clarity, showing how the statistics can be overwhelming, deceiving, and even depressing. They can make you do the opposite of what you are called to do, and that’s trying to figure out a way to alleviate poverty.

And then Stearns goes on to write about how we can alleviate poverty. We do it as the body of Christ. We do it as His Church.

Christian churches are supposed to be the pillars of their communities, and even the pillars of the world. Read about the early church, and what Jesus tried to do. This is why Christians came together as churches in the first place.

But in the Western church today, we get into our own little bubbles. We create these mega-churches. They offer yoga classes, Starbucks in the lobby, all these things for our people. I understand the importance of discipling, but the impression these mega-churches give is that they only care about themselves. They make it look as though they are there for only one thing: their own congregation.

We’re supposed to be a church as a whole, a church everywhere in the world. We’re supposed to go out into the communities of the world to figure out who needs help. And then we’re supposed to get together and help!

Jesus said, “I came to rescue.” He said, “I came to take people out of bondage and create joy where there is no joy.” And when He ascended to heaven, He left it up to us to continue His work. That’s our fulfillment in Christ. That’s our real “best life now” scenario.

3 thoughts on “The Hole in Our Gospel

  1. You are right on, Jeremy. I’ve not read that book but I’ve read THE Book. The message that is being shared in the western churches today does seeem to be about “me, myself and I” we truly need to get back to our roots – and walk as Jesus walked. I’ve heard statistics that if everyone in the church would tithe, we could wipe out poverty plus do a whole lot more! We should be a postive influence in our communities. I’m blessed to be in a very giving church fellowship both in tithing and reaching out and doing our part in helping the needy (feeding the poor, helping the widow and orphans) and spreading the Gospel by supporting missions. etc. I’m sure the mega churches are doing a part but it’s sad to think how much more could be done if their focus was on Jesus, salvation and being led by the Holy Spirit, instead of self esteem and church promotion.
    And we do have a coffee pot and a tea kettle on in the kitchen ;-) but it’s free!

  2. I could not agree more. It makes me so angry and disillusioned when I see this in church and people who call themselves Christian. Jesus did not glorify himself. There are so many passages in the Bible talking helping the poor, visiting the sick and the troubled and those in prison that so many Christians simply ignore. Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers you do unto me. We are called to help one another.

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