Basically Stearn's premise is this: The Gospel is a lot bigger than a get-out-of-hell-free card; it is about redeeming us, and also helping us redeem culture around us, specifically by reaching out to those locked in economic hardship.
As a missionary, I found his message refreshing. Inside, his words found resonance with me. Our gospel has become too me oriented. Yes, it is about me loving God, but it is also about me loving my neighbor, something that is closely linked to loving our Heavenly Father. We love Him by loving others.
Lest his gospel look like he is advocating working for salvation, he cautions readers to understand that we are saved by grace/faith alone, but that saving faith will have a direct impact on our actions, and result in fruit the world can see and savor.
I love what Stearns says in his comments on Mark's account of Jesus feeding a multitude with just a few loaves and fishes. You remember the story. It was late in the day. The people were far from food and tired from being out all day without nourishment. Look at Mark 6 for the details.
Jesus asked his disciples (as he also extends the invitation to us) to feed the crowd.
They responded by asking whether 200 denari worth of bread should be purchased to feed them. Isn't this so like us? Always calculating what it will take when the task is before us. We look at a job (in this case what appeared to be an almost insurmountable job) and try to figure out strategy to complete it.
I'm not saying that calculations like this are wrong, but maybe they shouldn't be our focus.
Notice what Jesus says. "What do you have in your hand? Bring it to me."
He didn't ask them what it would take to get the job done, only what they had to offer. He didn't ask them to get something they didn't already have, only to be willing to share what they already had.
So I ask myself, (and you): "What do you have in your hand?"
The liberating thing about loving our neighbors is that Jesus doesn't ask us to manufacture it, only to be a channel. He is sending a message of love to the world and wants to send the message through us. He only asks that we be available.
What do you have in your hand?
I hope the answer is love.