Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So, I decided to listen to Rob Bell...

I decided to listen to Rob Bell's podcast and I just happened to be moved by the way he approached his sermon and how he put it together. He speaks as though he is Paul, imprisoned under Caesar, and addresses issues that I feel as though I can identify.

"We say Jesus is Lord. We don’t buy your government’s propaganda… So we’re essentially try to create a whole new community under right your noses. Not about violence and greed but about love and generosity and grace… I just say come join our community and see how we care for each other. Our God isn’t the God of the powerful and sword. Our God is the God of the oppressed. Our God is the God of the poor and the widow, the broken, the stranger, the refugee, that’s our God. So we say to everybody who has the boot of their empire on their neck, we say, 'Come on in can. We help you? Here’s some bread why don’t you dip it in the wine? Jesus is Lord.' And what happens when people see us is we simply say to them, 'Who do you think is lord, Caesar or Jesus?” That’s all we are doing. Is we simply ask a question, 'Whose way is really the way of God? The sword, the spear and weird hat with the brush on it? Or the way of Jesus?… Our God is the God of the oppressed, our God is the God of the underside. Our God is a God who understands suffering, who understands pain, who understands when you’re not the winners but you’re the losers. That’s actually how you understand our God. If you’re still convinced you’re the winners, if you’re still convinced you’re good enough, essentially, to earn God’s love that doesn’t work. It’s only when you are broken that our God even makes sense… I love free speech. Free speech is awesome because it means I can say anything I want. And when you all oppose free speech, when you censor, when you put someone in prison like me because I am simply speaking my mind, well, that’s weak. What are you scared of?… We appear quite weak but we’re actually quite strong. See what you have to understand about this movement is you step on us and we multiply. You crush us and we grow stronger. Do you realize that because you put me in prison 10-20-30-40 of my brothers and sisters are all the more courageous...Do you realize that now that you put me in prison that you just started something I don’t know if you can stop… You make a martyr out of me and the moment gains even more momentum. Do you realize that? You step on this Jesus movement and all we do is multiply. We just explode, we thrive in suffering. Put me in jail, flog me, fine.
Well, actually, what disturbs me, is in some of the places that I’ve been when it becomes easier to be a Christian the Jesus movement kind of loses it’s steam. I actually get really concerned about the future, about areas that it becomes easier and easier and more comfortable. The worst thing is when Christians get comfortable. When there is no suffering. That’s when the Jesus movement isn’t at it’s best. We do best underneath the empire, we do best in the margins, we do best when your boot is on our neck. Cause then we are totally dependent on the grace of God. It’s suffering where our God shines. When everything is fine we don’t really need God. Actually, what terrifies me is if the Christian movement ever became enmeshed with power structures. Like, I will tell you what would be terrifying is a Christian nation. A Christian nation that would use the sword in the name of Jesus. That would be anti-Christ in it’s origin. Because Jesus said to put away your sword. What terrifies me is that you would have a Christian nation that forced and compelled people...The only way our movement works is we take the bread and dip into the wine and we say to each other, 'Jesus is Lord, do you want to join?' It only works with desire, it only works with love, it only works ‘cause you’ve glimpsed something you want more than anything else. If it ever became compulsory, it ever became, like, be a Christian, or else, if being a Christian ever became synonymous with being part of the empire or the nation, that would be the worst thing ever. If there were a group of Christians who thought they were right and tried to void and use their power to influence and to simply dominate over everybody else that would not be what Jesus had in mind. You’ve got to understand that this movement thrives when it is on the underside of power. This movement, we thrive when we are weak because then God can be strong. You guys understand that you can put me in prison, you can deprive me of food, you can take away my rights, you can lock me up, you can chain me to a wall, you can flog me, you can beat me, you can physically harm me in any way until I’m drenched in my own blood. You can do anything to me but you can’t take my heart…"
Rob Bell

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