Joshua gave me permission to share his recent reflections on Richard Stearns’ The Hole in our Gospel.
The “Hole” in our Gospel is that we have downsized it to a one-time personal transaction between individuals and God, whereby the individual gains a sort of “fire insurance” that ensures that he will go to heaven. After receiving this insurance, the individual may go on and live life however he pleases with the knowledge that when he dies he will go to heaven.
The Whole Gospel is so much more! It not only involves believing and putting our faith in Jesus, but it also a call to put our faith into action and to follow Jesus’ radical commands to lovingly and selflessly dedicate our lives to the pursuit of justice and compassion. When we do put our trust in Jesus we undergo a radical inner transformation whereby we are filled with the Spirit, who in turn gives us the power to do God’s will for us. We are to live as ambassadors of Christ, in the sense that we are the instruments through which His work is accomplished here on earth. If this Whole Gospel was embraced it would spark a massive social revolution.
Our world is facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in history. Poverty is multi-faceted and includes many aspects and factors, including injustice economic systems, lack of food and/or water, war and conflict, and diseases, such as AIDS and malaria. War and conflict is an obstacle that constantly stymies the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals and the work of others to combat poverty. We should not get overwhelmed while thinking about these problems however and should instead remember that: 1) Every one of these hurting people is created in God’s image and loved by Him; 2) Everyone of these challenges has a solution; 3) Every one of us can make a difference.
The church contains massive potential to majorly impact our world today for God, particularly the Church in America. The American church contains the resources necessarily to alleviate extreme poverty in our world today. Instead it chooses to commit its resources to other programs other than helping the world’s poor. Instead of being always characterized by what it is against, the church should instead strive to be characterized by what they are for, such as love, justice and compassion. Remove the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We are entrusted (not entitled) to our time, talents and treasure, and as such should consider how we can use these for God’s purpose. Each one of us was created in a certain way by God for a specific purpose and our goal should be to find what God’s purpose is for each of us and strive to live that purpose out the best of our abilities and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
|CJ and Joshua playing with kids at the orphanage near our house|