This morning I finished another book on my long list of "To Read." It's title was "Jesus wants to save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile," by Rob Bell and Don Golden. So I thought I would do a quick review and then just put down some of the lines from the book.
This is a link to a webpage they created for the book. There is an interactive game you can play there. I don't think the page is complete yet, because not all of it works. Still, you can find plenty of info there. http://jesuswantstosavechristians.blogspot.com/
For some reason, Rob Bell is considered quite the divisive figure in many American churches. I have my theories as to why, but most of them come down to people either ignorantly or willfully taking his words out of context. The second reason has to do with secular politics. Quite often, many "Christians" confuse secular, conservative politics with doing Jesus' will. The third reason is that Bell, and others like him, insist that you must put flesh & bone to the gospel...you must be socially active...to demonstrate the love of Christ. (That can really get some folk's underwear in a bunch.) The fourth reason is that Bell is an Artist. As such, he tends approach & explain the gospel through an Artsy-Fartsy lense. That can really rub people the wrong way...especially if you like your Jesus and Bible nice, safe and predictable. (Remember, it's extremely important that you can squeeze the Creator of the Universe into your little, man-made box.)
Anyway, I would highly recommend this book. Bell takes on the complacency of the American church. Sometimes it's a bit painful. But this is something we need to hear. The Gospel of Christ is a lot bigger than the U.S., and our country is guilty of going the way of every single empire that has come before it. (No, I don't hate America. But the Institutionalized, Americanized church drives me CRAZY!) A warning; if you are a big fan of Pat Robertson, James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, etc. You will most likely wish to burn this book.
Dr. Greg Bourgond, the man behind the "Heart of a Warrior" men's bible study program...and by extension, one of my heros, describes Bell as a Lizard. He told me that there are three types of Christian leaders. #1. Elephants: Like Billy Graham, Rick Warren, etc. These are guys who are kind of larger then life. #2. Lions: Like Bill Hybels, John Piper, Greg Boyd, etc. These are strong willed & rather charismatic dudes. #3. Then there are Lizards: Guys that can creep in through the cracks in walls that others simply can't fit through.
I have seen first hand how Rob Bell has been able to impact folks with the gospel. These were/are folks who simply will never respond to the old, standard methods. They are very cynical about what passes for the "Church" and "Christianity" in America. (Yeah, I know. What a shock.)
At any rate, I get tired of people ripping on Bell. We need all sorts of people and ways to put flesh & bone to the Good News of the Kingdom of God. So without further ado, the following are excerpts from the final chapter, titled "Broken and Poured."
"Even deeply anti-religious people affirm that something is seriously wrong with our world and that wrong is nowhere more present than in the human heart.
At the center of the Christian experience is crying out in our slavery and being heard by God. Trust that through Jesus, God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves.
Rescue. Redemption. Grace.
God doesn't just want to save us; God is looking for a body, a people to incarnate the divine.
We're invited at Sinai to join the God of the oppressed in doing something about our broken world. And that always involves hearing the cry of the oppressed and then acting on their behalf.
If we forget them, we lose track of our own story.
And sometimes we lose the plot. We become proud, we start to feel entitled, we allow our abundance to isolate us from who we really are. And we find ourselves in exile, which can be abrupt and shocking, and sometimes exile can be so subtle, we don't realize what's happened until later.
We find God in our own oppression, in our own crying out, in our own response to the body of Christ broken for us, the blood of Christ poured out for us, and when we can't find God in our own oppression, we can always find God in the oppression of others.
Jesus wants to save us from making the good news about another world and not this one.
Jesus wants to save us from preaching a gospel that is only about individuals and not about the systems that enslave them.
Jesus wants to save us from shrinking the gospel down to a transaction about the removal of sin and not about every single particle of creation being reconciled to it's maker.
Jesus wants to save us from religiously sanctioned despair, the kind that doesn't believe the world can be made better, the kind that either blatantly or subtly teaches people to just be quiet and behave and wait for something big to happen "Someday."
He has chosen the path of descent; he comes into Jerusalem on a donkey, not a horse.
With children, not soldiers,
And he dies,
Maybe that's what he means when he says, "Do this in remembrance of me." The "do this" part is our lives. Opening ourselves up to the mystery of resurrection, open for the liberation of others, allowing our bodies to be broken and our blood to be poured, discovering our Eucharist. Listening. And going.
Because when we do this in remembrance of him, the world will never be the same; we will never be the same.
Now that is a manifesto."
P.S. I haven't seen all of the Nooma videos that Mars Hill has produced, but this one is by far my favorite. I never seem to get tired of watching it.