Richard Stearns and I are in agreement about one thing: The gospel has become so watered down, in many places it’s now nothing more than fire insurance.
Let me explain.
Most of the times that I’ve heard the Gospel preached, it has ended with little more than a call for people to “Repeat this prayer after me so you won’t go to hell.” There is little or nothing about changing your life, allowing Christ to enter in and begin the refinement process. It’s all about what we can get, not what we are prepared to do.
I believe this is completely wrong. Salvation is about life change, not just repeating a few words without ever meaning them in our hearts.
Which all brings me to this book, The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, USA.
I started reading this book tonight, which I received as part of the Thomas Nelson Books for Bloggers program. I hadn’t read much of it when I realized that it was going to be one of those ‘life changing’ books.
The problem is, I’ve read a few ‘life changing’ books recently (John Avant’s If God Were Real and Jackie Chan’s Crazy Love being amongst them) but what actual change has there been in my life?
The answer: Very little, if any.
So I’m in a quandary… I’m sure this book is going to be a great read but I don’t want to read it as just a great book, if I commit the time to read it, I want my life to be changed by what I learn.
If the amount of life change I’ve experienced from the books I’ve read recently is anything to go by, I’m not in a place right now where I’m prepared to be changed – so maybe I shouldn’t read it right now.
What do you think?
11 Reply to “Decision time: The Hole in our Gospel”
Okay, Peter, you asked.
I believe we should always be changing, and growing more like Christ. If the Lord nudges us to change and we change, all well and good. If we don't, He'll nudge a little harder. Some of those nudges can seem downright unpleasant, until we finally change, and are perhaps even grateful for the pain to get changed.
If the Lord's put some life-changing messages in your life, I'd be asking Him how to apply them. It doesn't matter which message you have in mind when you ask. It's a simple matter of saying, "Show me the next step, Lord, and I promise to do it, whatever it is."
I wish I could be offering this opinion to you because I always heeded the little nudges and didn't wait for the ones that make me miserable. 🙁
I totally get this. I can't count how many "life-changing" books I've read and then been too lazy to actually make the changes. Boo.
You raise a good point – I have read a few books recently myself that moved me, convicted me, but didn't cause me to change anything. Maybe you could read it, and ask God to speak to you as you read it, and be willing to let Him use what you read to change you. Besides, now I will watcing your blog to see what you think of the book. 🙂
I have seen it and am interested
Thanks Mark! The pressure's really on now!
Um – Jackie Chan, or Francis Chan? My imagination is running wild at this point…
Anyway, perhaps this book could be part of the preparation for change.
I wondered if anyone would pick up on that… I just put it in there for my own amusement!
I've actually been inspired to write more about this on Tuesday. Thanks for your helpful comment!
Here's what I think – Books don't change you. What I mean is they can be a catalyst for you to change you, an inciting incident of sorts, but you are going to have to act to see real life change.
That being said, The Hole in Our Gospel should not be missed. It changed the way I think. Although I have only made a couple small changes since reading it, I think that someday I will look back and realize that book put me on another path, one that is more in sync with what God is calling me to do/be.
Thank you, Lindsey, that's an excellent perspective.
Still laughing about the Jackie Chan thing- You understand the words that are comin’ outta my mouf?
I think Lindsey’s right. Books don’t change us, it’s God. I’ve had books that I’ve read a little and put down because I wasn’t getting anything only to come back a year later and devour its principles and gain so much life from it. The Holy Spirit can direct us if we listen then we won’t waste time on things we don’t need or possibly are ready for yet.