A Wake-up Call for Blasé Believers
For youthful radicals, such questions may bring necessary pause. But more mature Christians may wonder whether anyone can withstand such scrutiny if he dares answer honestly.
Our King Is Enraged
In a divided church, leaders across the theological spectrum will agree on at least one thing: God is not happy with us. And that's the general tone Stearns strikes in Unfinished. Faulting Christians for prioritizing career, lifestyle, social lives, and happiness, Stearns says, "I have no doubt that our King is also enraged . . . and brokenhearted." Stearns argues throughout the book that the church today has all the resources, knowledge, size, and power to fulfill God's mission for us. We lack only the will, and Stearns aims to shame us into action.
Interestingly, Stearns does not target nominal Christians or the passive masses. After all, they're not likely to read this book or any other of its kind. He writes to fairly serious Christians like the ones who picked up The Hole in Our Gospel to read with their small group or Sunday school class. These are Christians who probably serve in their churches and seek to grow through regular Bible reading and prayer. More specifically, Stearns is worried that too many Christians have glutted themselves on knowledge. God wants our obedience, he says, not our doctrine.
But you need doctrine to answer key questions about obedience: How do you know you've done enough to please God? How can you be sure he'll regard you as a good and faithful servant? Stearns helpfully repeats the gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection for sinners. But he could have more explicitly reminded readers that no matter the measure of our obedience, all must return again and again to the grace of God that preserves and protects.
The many examples of faithful Christians cited by Stearns depend on this grace. These wonderfully inspiring Christians, ordinary believers like you and me, give up not just their money but their very selves for the sake of Jesus, his kingdom, and their global neighbors. Stearns wisely goes beyond just telling us what to do. He shows us Christians who have done it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
They Hated Him
If they haven't started squirming already, readers will really start to feel the heat around chapter four, titled "Magic Kingdom, Tragic Kingdom, and the Kingdom of God." Stearns asks a painfully practical question: "How can we hold in one hand the truth that Jesus loves the poor, the widow, and the orphan, yet hold in our other hand the tickets to our upcoming Disney vacation?" You would expect nothing less from the president of the largest Christian aid organization. Stearns has seen more than his share of suffering around the world. Yet he remains sensitive to these great needs.