I haven't read the book (though I believe the Russia team did in preparation for their trip - so maybe you can ask Jean, Chris, or Peter about it), but I did run across an excerpted article in the Nov/Dec 2010 Missions Frontiers magazine (lent to me by Marion Howell). This excerpt from the excerpt is worth reading and pondering:
We live in a church culture that has a dangerous tendency to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God. ... And while the wonder of grace is worthy of our attention, if that grace is disconnected from its purpose, the sad result is a self-centered Christianity that bypasses the heart of God.
If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of "The message of Christianity is that God loves me. " Or someone might say, "The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die for me."
As wonderful as it sounds, is it biblical? Isn't it incomplete, based on what we have seen in the Bible? ...if "God loves me" is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?
God loves me.
Christianity's object is me.
Therefore, when I look for a church, I look for the music that best fits me and the programs that best cater to me and my family. When I make plans for my life and career, it is about what works best for me and my family. When I consider the house I will live in, the car I will drive, the clothes I will wear, the way I will live, I will choose according to what is best for me. This is the version of Christianity that largely prevails in our culture.
But this is not biblical Christianity.
The message of biblical Christianity is not "God loves me, period," as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make Him--His ways, His salvation, His glory, and His greatness--known among all nations." Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around Him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is. God centers on Himself, even in our salvation. Remember His words in Ezekiel: He saves us, not for our sake, but for the sake of His holy name."Remember our purpose statement: We exist to reflect God's infinite worth through Christ, for the glory of His name and the good of all peoples. Are you on board?