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.

 

If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith—and mine— has a hole in it. As Johnny Cash sang, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.” The apostle James felt strongly about this type of person.

“Show me your faith without deeds,” he challenged, “and I will show you my faith by my deeds” (James 2:18). In other words, make your faith public.

 

Embracing the gospel, or good news, proclaimed by Jesus is so much more than a private transaction between God and us. The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world. Jesus called the resulting new world order the “kingdom of God” (Matt. 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43; and Mark 1:15, among others) and said that it would become a reality through the lives and deeds of his followers. Jesus asked a great deal of those who followed him. He expected much more from them than just believing he was God’s son. He challenged them to embrace radically different standards, to love their neighbors and their enemies, to forgive those who wronged them, to lift up the poor and downtrodden, to share what they had with those who had little, and to live lives of sacrifice. Then he likened their effect on the world around them to that which light has darkness. Light dispels darkness; it reverses it. Likewise, truth dispels falsehood, and goodness reverses evil.

 

This is not easy stuff. Anyone who has tried to follow Jesus knows that the journey is fraught with setbacks, challenges, and failures— two steps forward and one step back. Those who choose to follow Christ have struggled since the very beginning to live differently in a world that often rejects their values and mocks their beliefs. The temptation to retreat from it and to keep our faith private has befallen every generation of Christians.

 

Yet we are the carriers of the gospel—the good news that was meant to change  the world. Belief is not enough. Worship is not enough. Personal morality is not enough. And Christian community is not enough. God has always demanded more. When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character—his love, justice, and mercy—through our words, actions, and behavior. “We are…Christian ambassadors,” wrote the apostle Paul, “as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:20). God chose us to be his representatives. He called us to go out to proclaim the good news—to be the good news— and to change the world. Living out faith privately was never meant to be an option.

 

—Adapted from The Hole in Our Gospel 10th Anniversary Edition: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns

 

How to Use This Book

The Hole In Our Gospel will challenge the people in your church to look at the Christian faith in a new light and discover the power of living with a renewed commitment to truly embrace the good news, the whole gospel, and demonstrate it through our lives. An improved study guide, compelling stories, and challenging directives, The Hole In Our Gospel gives you hope, encouragement and tangible ways to partner with God in changing the world. Get your copies today and consider it for your small group.

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