Who would’ve thought Rob Bell would mention Eminem in this book? That’s kinda scary, really. For Rob, not us. Especially considering Enimem tends to find any reason to talk crap about a famous person in his rap lyrics. And Wait. Rob Bell attended an Eminem concert? When?I think he;s just earned some cool points! This week’s assignment: Ask your pastor about the last Eminem concert they’ve been to. Five dollars says most of them won’t even know who Em is.
Okay, down to biz. By the time I’d finished reading this chapter, I had a big smile on my face. Finally, Rob Bell and I agree on something. The death of Jesus Christ is the key to the new life God has promised us… wherever it may be.
I found disagreement with only a few things, but for the most part, Rob does an excellent job laying groundwork for the reason the sacrifice of Jesus as “the lamb of God” is really important — and not all that unusual, when we consider the life cycle of nature around us. It’s like Mufasa says in Lion King “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance…” and goes on about how Simba has to respect the balance, even the antelope. Simba’s all “don’t we eat the antelope.” To which Mufasa replies “… When we die, our bodies become the grass and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great circle of life.”
Who knew Disney could make it’s way into a blog post about Rob Bell? But alas, it has happened. And for good reason. Because that statement by Mufasa sums up well what Rob is saying in this chapter. But not only this idea of life from death (for which Bell gives great examples like seasons, our skin, and our eating habits), but the idea that we go against our nature by clinging to our sense of survival… by refusing to die in order to live. He says, “When we cling with white knuckles to our sins and our hostility, we’re like a tree that won’t let its leaves go. There can’t be a spring if we’re still stuck in the fall.”(LoveWins, p.136)
In short, this chapter encourages the need for Christ’s sacrifice. But not only his sacrifice, but our own as well. “Lose your life and find it, he [Jesus] says. That’s how the world works. That how the soul works. That’s how life works when you’re dying to live.” (p. 136)
While not presented in the traditional “turn or burn” way, Bell presents the gospel of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as something crucial to our understanding. Between the lines, Bell asks us to look around and take in what God is showing us — that death give way to life, that we must follow suit, and that Jesus is the key. Well done Rob.
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Quick Thoughts on my favorite quotes:
The point, then, isn’t to narrow it to one particular metaphor, image, explanation, or mechanism. To elevate one over the others, to insist that there’s a “correct” or “right” one, is to miss the brilliant, creative work these first Christians were doing when they used these images and metaphors. They were reading their world, looking for ways to communicate this epic event in ways their listeners could grasp. (Love Wins, p.129)
The many ways in which God and the Bible talk about what Jesus’ sacrifice does for us is a both/and sort of scenario. In other words, we should not choose any one of the analogies over the others. But I don’t think we’ve traditionally done that.
The idea is that in one momentous, glorious occasion, Jesus accomplished several things simultaneously. He not only redeems and justifies, but gives way to relationship in the process, and thus wins the spiritual battle for the hopeless nature our souls. It’s all of them, one connected to the other. Bell speaks about contextualizing Jesus’ sacrifice — a telling of the death and resurrection story in a way that fits the audiences understanding– which may have been true. But it is more than telling one story in different ways. It is telling several parts to one story, each serving a unique purpose to the epic moment in history that offers restoration of our original purpose… an engaging love with the one GOD. It is not one story shown in different colors, it’s more like several pieces to a puzzle — a glorious, amazing puzzle revealing the thorough nature of God’s use of Jesus’ time on Earth to offer salvation to everyone who’s ever lived. That’s what makes Jesus so amazing.
When people say that Jesus came to die on the cross so that we can have a relationship with God, yes, that is true. But that explanation as the first explanation puts us at the center. For the first Christians, the story was, first and foremost, bigger, grander. More massive. When Jesus is presented only as the answer that saves individuals from their sin and death, we run the risk of shrinking the Gospel down to something just for humans, when God has inaugurated a movement in Jesus’s resurrection to renew, restore, and reconcile everything “on earth or in heaven” (Col. 1), just as God originally intended it. (Love Wins, p. 134)
In reality, the relationship is the “why” for it all. As I have stated on several occasions, God’s actions toward us was meant to return us to our original purpose of volitional relationship with Him — an engaging, two-way relationship. God wants us to love Him back, and went to great lengths to show his love to us so we could do just that. Sin was in the way of that love for the red tape of legalities and justice (the need for justification and redemption) and Satan needed defeating (the “prince of this world” in spiritual battle) before we could return to our spirits to their proper relational state. As I said in the notes from the first quote. It is not the singling out of one of these, but the culmination of them all. I believe it’s all for the relationship and so that must be key. Otherwise, we are only servants of God, not sons (and daughters), which of course, is not the way the Bible describes the relationship God wants from us.
When we say yes to God, when we open ourselves to Jesus’s living, giving act on the cross, we enter in to a way of life. He is the source, the strength, the example, and the assurance that this pattern of death and rebirth is the way into the only kind of life that actually sustains and inspires (Love Wins, p. 136)
I loved this. Again, well said Rob!
Is Christ’s death enough save all from death or just those that believe? Tell me your thoughts!
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