Bell, Rob. Colden, Don. Jesus Wants to Save Christians. A manifesto for the church in exile. Zondervan 2008.
There is no question about the ‘Rob Bell flavor’ of this book. It is unapologetic and ‘in your face’. There is definitely a need for such a resource in our church culture. Perhaps a disclaimer would be in order here. ‘Let those who have ears to hear, hear.’
We are introduced to present condition of the Western church through a parallel between the insecurity that Cain faced as he was sent ‘east of Eden’ and the insecurity that characterizes so much of Western church culture. We are ‘east of Eden’.
The redemption story begins (in Exodus) with the declaration that God hears the cries of those in misery. “This is central to who God is.” (23) “Egypt is what happens when sin becomes structured and embedded in society.” (27) For people coming out of a long period of slavery “the Ten Commandments are a new way to be human”, (34) to be liberated. Jerusalem, under Solomon, was to be an example to the world about God’s justice and righteousness. Sheba got it. Where Solomon ‘screwed up’ was when he used forced labor (slavery) to build the symbol of justice and righteousness. That path led to exile (Babylon). Israel has come full circle (to Egypt). The harps that were once used to express joyous worship in the temple are now used to express ‘exile poetry’. “Weeping leads us to reconnect with God.” (53) God has an ultimate ‘exodus’ planned for all humanity from the ultimate oppressor. All things will be made new! A New Jerusalem. Isaiah describes it as “salvation that reaches the end of the earth”.
Those who experienced Jesus’ healing referred to him as the Son of David, and rightly so. In every sense the ultimate exodus will be all about healing, “a new marriage covenant”. (80) During the post-resurrection period of the early church we see the effects of this exodus as the gospel was spread ‘to the ends of the earth’, represented by Africa (the Ethiopian Eunuch) and Rome (Paul) and beyond.
We live in a part of the world that has a grossly distorted view of the needs of the world and our responsibility for those needs. This view is dominated by entitlement.
The original exodus (from Egypt) was symbolized by a significant sacrifice with a very visible display of blood. Its effect was horrendous, the death of the first-born. The final exodus is symbolized by another significant sacrifice, the death of God’s first-born. Our ongoing identification with this sacrifice is the truth demonstrated in our celebration of the Eucharist. “What the Eucharist does is particularise the exodus story in time and space.” (161) “When we do this in remembrance of Him the world will never be the same.” (181)