Rob Bell has done it again. Jesus Wants to Save Christians is a book that must be read. And discussed. It will make you uncomfortable. It may make you upset. But it will remind you of where we have come from, and it will leave you with hope, hope for the church, and hope for the generations that follow after us.
Drawing largely upon the New Exodus perspectives, Bell proposes that today’s church, specifically the American church, has forgotten what it means to be on the outside. Or has he would say, they have forgotten about exile. He writes:
“Exile is when you forget your story. Exile isn’t just about location; exile is about the state of your soul. Exile is when you fail to convert your blessings into blessings for others. Exile is when you find yourself a stranger to the purposes of God.”
Instead, we as the church must become the embodiment of Christ by returning to the Eucharist. For Bell, the Eucharist is central. It is a time of remembering of what God has done for us but it also provides us a reminder to bless others with the blessings God has bestowed upon us. It’s about entering into the pain and hurt of others, of hearing their cry, and then helping them carry their burdens. He says, “The Eucharist is about people with the power empowering the powerless to make a better life for themselves.” The church must avoid the temptation to assimilate in the greater culture. We are the embodiment of the new humanity of Christ. And honestly, that looks quite different than many of the aspirations of today’s society.
Bell covers the narrative of the bible in a way that is very understandable to the average lay person and yet, quite intriguing to follow along with. He always does a fantastic job of bridging the gap between the world of academia and congregation members. If you are looking for hope in the church, this would be a good place to start. And if you want to be disturbed and shaken out of your comfortable state, read this book.