Why did Jesus come to the world? Why did he have to die? What was the point of his ministry here on earth? The answer to these questions is what we call “the gospel”, the good news. Most people in the church today would respond to these questions with “Jesus came to save us from our sins” or something to that effect. Jesus inaugurated his ministry by reading from Isaiah 61.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4:14-20
The “hole in our gospel” that the author, Richard Sterns, refers to in to is that the church has presented a gospel that leaves out the call to defend the cause of the oppressed. The book presents the problem in most church’s understanding of the gospel (mostly through recounting his own story of how the course of his life was altered by the gospel which led him to become the president of World Vision). Then he describes the enormity of the problem of poverty in the world. In the end, he gives some practical ideas for how to get the American church back into the battle. I give the book a thumbs up (if you can do that with books).
My colleague, Steve St Pierre, gave me the book. He has a box of them in his office that he dispenses like the balloons at Trader Joe’s.