Book Reflection: Jesus Wants to Save Christians

This year at Vintage, I am preaching through Exodus. (The podcast of week 1 is available here.) A couple years ago, we journeyed through the epic story of Genesis. It feels like it’s time to explore the sequel. And so, in preparation, I recently re-read Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden.  

Jesus Wants to Save ChristiansI’ll be honest. The first time I read JWtSC, I didn’t like it very much. Its heavy reliance on re-telling biblical stories seemed boring to me. It felt way too political and polemic. It just didn’t resonate with where I was at at the time.

It’s amazing how things change.

This time through, I was completely enamored with Jesus Wants to Save Christians. It captured my imagination and got me thinking in the kind of way that I always hope a book will.

The theme of the book is that the central story of the Bible, our redemption, can be understood through the rubric of Exodus. In essence, God is calling people out of slavery to empires of oppression and into the freedom and liberation of God’s kingdom. It’s a story that moves the idea of salvation beyond just the realm of personal salvation – a get-out-of-hell-free-card – to a more global and holistic vision of what it means to live by faith and with justice.

Bell and Golden highlight the centrality of the exodus throughout the biblical narrative. I love to see relationships between things. I love to connect the dots. Reading JWtSC this time was like pulling at a loose thread. Everything was connected to everything. The story of exodus doesn’t just happen in Exodus. It happens again in Solomon’s reign over Israel and again with the prophets and again in the life of Jesus and again through the writings of Paul and again in John’s Revelation.

The book inspired me to think again about my role as a peacemaker in the world and as someone who ought to work for justice. In the face of so much oppression and injustice, I have the choice – to serve and build the empire or to serve and build God’s kingdom.

And I was struck by the profound inconsistency of it all. (I don’t like things to be inconsistent. If you say something, do it. If you believe something, live up to it.) As I was reading JWtSC, I was thinking about some of the changes Vanessa and I have made in our lives to be more socially responsible, to more fully pursue peace and justice. And I was blown away by how far we have to go. I read JWtSC on my Apple-made iPad, sitting in a Starbucks, wearing clothes from Banana Republic.

The irony was not lost on me.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians is a how-should-we-then-live kind of book. It doesn’t just draw parallels between various Bible verses, it paints a picture of human existence that calls me to action. I’m glad that I’ve got a community with which to experiment as we live the new exodus together.

And … just because it’s that awesome, here is Tracy Chapman’s song Fast Car, the perfect anthem for a new exodus.

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