Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesus Wants to Save Christians (a very llong review of said book)

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've enjoyed Rob Bell's previous books as well as what he does with Nooma, so it comes at no surprise that i enjoyed Jesus Wants To Save Christians. Bell and co-author Don Golden paint a nice picture of the dysfunctional first family found in Genesis and about how God provided a 'better way'.

Compare that with the story of Exodus, the story of those opposed to Jesus and the story of today's 'church'; God has been, throughout the history of our existence, showing us a better way... and time after time we have rejected His message and done our own thing, albeit often in the name of God and under the guise of 'Christianity'.
This book builds upon itself and it doesn't take long for the reader to figure out that Bell and Golden are pointing fingers. Some will take offense to it. Some will reject it without even reading it. Some would possibly even read it but think that it is about someone else.

The fact is Bell and Golden are calling the church out, in not-so-subtle ways. Frankly, it was a message worth sharing... a message that the church globally (at least the church domestically in America) needs to digest.

*Spoiler Alert*

If we go back to Sinai, God made a covenant with the people. Ever since, mankind has chosen other lovers. The Israelites were brought out of slavery and into freedom... yet, again and again everything falls apart and they cry out for help... stuck in exile... oppressed and hurting. Egypt repeats. We were born into this same slavery... it may not be the Egyptians enslaving us... it may be sin, greed, violence, death. But God provided 'a way'

Bell and Golden connect the dots between Israel's slavery and the need for a savior, for one and all.
from chapter two:
"What began as hope for a Jewish leader for Jewish people needing an exodis from exile in Babylon evolved over time into the expectation of a leader who would be for everybody."
Hope for a particular group of people turned into a hope for all.

This leads to a discussion in chapter 3 in which Power and Leadership and connected with Serving and Humility - found in Jesus Christ. The end result of that kind of power is Compassion, grace and love.
"The misuse of power always leads to the escalation of violence."

"If evil always takes some form of violence, then more violence isn't going to solve anything."

put two and two together and you can see the subtle parallels to some of the actions our country has taken over the past decade. This, will no doubt be a point of contention for many, but i think that in the context of Jesus Wants to Save Christians, things are presented and connections are made. I felt myself inspired instead of fired up.
What i particularly enjoyed was Chapter 5, which reminded me of Nooma 13: Rich. "God bless America? He has." Through story and statistics the idea of the dangers of Empire is presented. I couldn't help thinking - is empire really what God desires? All-to-much we seem to place 'empire' about faith... putting party affiliation 1st, Jesus 2nd. or maybe it's the accumulation of wealth or technology or what have you, being placed ahead of God.

The most gut-wrenching part of the whole book took place on page 136. A story of a youth minister asking the question "i just can't get my students interested in Jesus." Bell's response: How does a 12 year old who has never been hungry, to the point that he/she didn't know where there next meal would come from understand the story of another 12 year old providing fish and bread for thousands of chronically hungry people?

Among other things, this book was an eye opener and my approach to ministry, hopefully will change as a result.

I will admit that i may be considered a fan-boy of sorts... so i am hoping that as things sink in, i will be able to process more what it is that i am taking away from this book.

For too long the church has been missing the point and thus people have been missing out on Jesus. Jesus wants to save us from our distractions, confusions, good intentions, misinterpretations and lack of focus. He wants us like the husband wants his bride. Forever to be in relationship, with love abounding.

We have been given a good gift. This book has reminded me of that gift and hopefully will compel me to share that good gift with others.

View all my reviews.

No comments: