Recently, I was recommended the book by Richard Stearns titled, The Hole in the Gospel. In this, his first published work, the President of World Vision, asks if we as twenty-first century Christians, have embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it?
In the first chapter, Mr. Stearns lays the biblical foundation for his premise that the Gospel includes more than the simple plan of salvation. In making such a statement, by no means, is he minimizing the signifance or the power of salvation by faith. Rather, he states that “in our evangelistic efforts to make the good news accesible and simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a ‘fire insurance’ that one can buy.” Sadly, we have ignored the hundreds of other exhortations found in God’s Word to protect the persecuted, feed the hungry,and love the less fortunate. If we cut those commands out of the Bible we literally have a book with a whole in it.
Having been raised and trained in an independent Baptist envornment, I must confess that for years I have looked at social ministry as unnecessary. After all, as long we as we are introducing them to Jesus Christ and and leading them toward eternal life, then we have done our part, right? I am afraid that I was gravely mistaken. We have not only been commanded to share Jesus with a lost world, but to literally be Jesus as well.
Did Jesus ignore the hurting, the hungry and the homeless? We all know that he did not. If Christ loved and cared for them, why should we do any less? I am reminded of John’s words in I John 3:17, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need, but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person.”
To my friends and critics that will read this post and believe that I have become liberal and that I am watering down the Gospel, let me assure you that my passion for evangelism has not waned. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that such a position puts me and my fellow servants in a much better position to share our faith. After all, one is much more prone to listen to the gospel message with a full stomach.
“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision.