I sort of joked halfway through reading this book, “if I could write a book, this is the book I would write”. Well, that remains to be true. Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, does a great job of calling the church to action. This book took so much of what I have thought, experienced, and dreamed about and put it between 2 covers.
This book is really a must read for Christians and non-Christians alike. Stearn’s thesis, which I think he supported nicely, is that we as Christians often forget that caring for the needy is inherently a part of the Gospel, not a potential byproduct of the Gospel. Jesus’ heart’s passion was for the weak, the needy, the unjustly persecuted, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, etc. Many believer’s focus so much on praying the salvation prayer, or even on our individual relationship and eternal life with Christ, or even on getting others saved, that we forget what it means to love Jesus and therefore love our neighbor in a Gospel oriented missional way. We don’t want to turn the Gospel into a social Gospel either devoid of evangelism (as has happen in certain movements), but we can’t let the pendulum swing the other way by focusing so heavily on “how many got saved” and “how many got baptized” without feeding the hungry and healing the sick. True, salvation is the ultimate, but feeding the hungry should not be done for the sole purpose of “getting them saved”. I don’t love my wife in order to get her to do something (ok, sometimes I do). I love her because I love her. We need to love our neighbors, even the unlovable, because Jesus loves them first.
This book reminds us of the embarrassing reality that there are millions(unsaved I might add) dying from treatable and reversible causes, while the church falls short of it’s responsibility to respond and act like Jesus would. It’s sounds so critical, and I hate to be so, but we care more about building our personal families and nests and local church kingdoms than we do about extending the kingdom of God by loving others outside of these. “The Church” needs to “Go”. Love Jesus, Love Neighbors, Make Disciples.
We here in the West, myself included, are chief sinners in this regard.