They have to be. A gentle, soothing alarm clock wouldn’t revive a sleepy teenager, and without some strong confrontation elements, Richard Stearns’ The Hole in our Gospel might not stimulate us to appropriate action.
However, sometimes the alarm clock message needs to be tweaked a little bit, and such is the case with chapter twenty: “A letter to the American church.”
In this chapter Stearns writes a Revelation-esque letter to America patterned after the style of Jesus’ messages to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Although composed largely of Scripture and containing very relevant and timely challenges to the church in America, Stearns letter lacks one thing: affirmation.
The outline of the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 follows a pattern of: affirmation–rebuke–exhortation–promise.
Jesus affirms what is going well…rebukes what is deficient…gives strategy for the remedy…and then promises either blessings or consequences for obedience or neglect.
Stearns is not wrong to challenge us—I, personally, have benefitted greatly from the strong, unflinching message of his book. However, I want to remind you that the Lord also affirms you.
- He sees your acts of devotion and your quality decisions.
- He is aware of your commitment to live for Him in a world that is awash in unbiblical ideals.
- He hears your prayers.
- He knows the compassion that breaks your heart for others.
- He is grateful that you are His.
- Yes, He will continually call us to follow Him better and love our fellow-man more, but He is also forever committed to helping us reach those ends.
The Hole in our Gospel Reading Program Chapter Twenty: A Letter to the Church in America