I am halfway through Richard Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel, a book that asks some of the toughest questions imaginable about faith and practice. I don’t usually comment on a book that I haven’t finished, mainly because most books are meant to be embraced in their entirety – phonebooks and dictionaries excepted.
But this one has me thinking. It’s one of those books you need to think and ponder on while you’re reading it.
Stearns was the well-paid CEO of Lennox, busy selling pretty dishes when he was asked to be president of World Vision a few years back. As you probably already know, World Vision doesn’t sell pretty dishes. They feed, clothe, and care for some of the world’s poorest and disadvantaged children. It was what some might call a huge career move, and a tough choice. But Stearns felt the call of God to make it, and has since come to the conclusion – based on his own experience – that Christians believe the gospel but largely fail to live it out, and that American Christians especially have the resources to make an incredible difference in shrinking poverty around the world.
His treatment of his subject matter is nothing short of blunt: If you are a follower of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you will love the poor like he did, and you will care for them like he did. I totally get that.
But I am eager to see how Stearns helps us understand how much do we give? Do we give it all away except for what we need to meet our own basic needs? What are my basic needs? Must the Christian buy a used sedan if he or she has the money to buy a new Lexus? Does the prosperous Christian have no option but to give all his wealth away? Is what we do with our material possessions always more important than what we say with our mouths?
A reviewer on Amazon said this book is nicely paired with Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, about which one reader said, “Giving is the only antidote to materialism.” I don’t fully understand the scope of alleviating the plight of the world’s poor, but I do understand the snarky pull of materialism. That, I understand.
More when I finish. . .