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Unfinished – Richard Stearns

Genre: Christian Living, Spiritual Growth

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: May 2013

Reviewed by Josh Olds

QUICK HIT – Fair warning, don’t read this book if you’re happy with humdrum Christianity, but if you want to live out the grand adventure of living the Gospel, Stearns would love to be your tour guide.

Believing is only the beginning. – That’s the tagline for Rich Stearns newest book Unfinished. I had the chance to interview Stearns over this book a while back—you can check that out HERE—but, although I’d read the book, haven’t had time to sit down and pen a review until now. Moving from Indiana to Oklahoma will do that.

Suffice it to say that I am in love with this book. I only wish I’d written it, though with Stearns’ years of experience as president of World Vision, he writes it in a way I can’t, calling others to be Jesus to the world while having the weight of knowing the need for simple things like water, food, and shelter, in so many countries.

Stearns begins with the Great Commission and goes forward from there, positing that God left Christians in charge as his ambassadors with the marching orders to be Jesus on the earth. Jesus ascended so that the Holy Spirit could descend into the hearts of believers and engage them in transforming the world for Christ.

But the Church, by and large, hasn’t done that. Instead, we’ve sought success in our vocations, comfort and security, wealth, fame, or happiness, little realizing that all these things are not fulfilling if not done under the realization that we were made for more than this world. Churches, far from being country clubs where Christians gather, were meant to be outposts of the Kingdom, where the spiritually sick are tended to and where we send out others to revitalize and transform this world—physically and spiritually.

Throughout the book, Stearns makes some very poignant statements and lovingly steps on a few toes. He portrays the Christian life as this grand adventure, the fulfillment of all we could have hoped for. At the same time, he shows just how much this living type of Christianity is needed. One powerful metaphor he discusses is the difference between the Magic Kingdom (the West) and the Tragic Kingdom (the Third World). Stearns writes that both of these need the Kingdom of God. It is only through living the Gospel and taking care of the physical needs of those in need that we truly fulfill the Great Commission and the purpose of our lives.

The book concludes with a study guide, which makes it great for small groups and high school youth. The principles taught in here weren’t new to me (and probably won’t be new for most Christians), but hopefully they’ll get the adrenaline flowing and get you committed to living out the Gospel. Fair warning, don’t read this book if you’re happy with humdrum Christianity, but if you want to live out the grand adventure of living the Gospel, Stearns would love to be your tour guide.

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