Friday, September 30, 2005
Velvet Elvis
An excerpt from Rob Bell's great new book Velvet Elvis, which all of you need to go out and read right now:

The point of the cross isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to something much bigger: restoration. God isn't just interested in the covering over of our sins; God wants to make us into the people we were originally created to be. It is not just the removal of what's being held against us; it is God pulling us into the people he orginally had in mind when he made us. This restoration is why Jesus always orients his message around becoming the kind of people who are generous and loving and compassionate. The goal here isn't simply to not sin. Our purpose is to increase the shalom in this world, which is why approaches to the Christian faith that deal solely with not sinning always fail. They aim at the wrong thing. It is not about what you don't do. The point is becoming more and more the kind of people God had in mind when we were first created.

It is one thing to be forgiven; it is another thing to become more and more and more and more the person God made you to be.

Let me take this further: If we only have a legal-transaction understanding of salvation in which we are forgiven of our sins so we can go to heaven, then salvation essentially becomes a ticket to somewhere else. In this understanding, eternity is something that kicks in when we die. But Jesus did not teach this. Jesus said that when we believe, we have crossed over from death to life. God always has been and always will be. And when I enter into a relationship with God through Christ, I am connected with God now and I will be connected with God forever. For Jesus, salvation is now.

I need a God for now.

I need healing now.

I need help now.

Yes even greater things will happen someday.

But salvation is now.

This now leads to another danger of embracing only one dimension of salvation. When faith is defined solely in legal terms, the dominant idea often becomes "inviting Jesus into your heart", a phrase that is not found anywhere in the Bible. That doesn't mean it is not legitimate; it just means that we have to be careful that we don't adopt ideas that come with it that aren't what God has in mind. The problems come when salvation becomes all about me. Me being saved. Me having my sins forgiven. Me being reconciled to God.

The Bible paints a much larger picture of salvation. It describes all of creation being restored. The author of Ephesians writes that all things will be brought together under Jesus.

Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker.

This has huge implications for how people present the message of Jesus. Yes, Jesus can come into our hearts. But we can join a movement that is as wide and deep and big as the universe itself. Rocks and trees and birds and swamps and ecosystems. God's desire is to restore all of it.

The point is not me; it's God.
posted by Mike Clawson at 10:37 AM | Permalink |


At 11/05/2005 09:25:00 AM, Blogger A. Monk

Wonderful quote! It would seem he is an EO apologist simply on the strength of this one quote alone. He must be reading "The Fathers"!




At 11/05/2005 09:29:00 AM, Blogger A. Monk

Fascinating subtitle, "Repainting the Christian Faith". If this quote is any indication it is more of a scraping off all the accumulated layers of paint to restore the original.



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