I just got this book yesterday and decided to move it to the top of the list. Why? Because I am always intrigued by what Bell has to say. And if the color scheme, chapter titles, and past history of his first two books were not enough for me to jump into this book the first three sentences on the back cover was. It reads, “There is a church in our area that recently added an addition to their building which cost more than $20 million. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty. This is a book about those two numbers.”
The book takes a look at a historical progression of crying out, being set free, forgetting who set you free, and being enslaved again. Using destination titles as Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, and Babylon, Bell and Golden unpack the calling of a people who are blessed to be a blessing and how they and maybe we miss this. The shift from being oppressed to being an oppressor could very well be our story. They are unabashed in (correctly) identifying America as an empire that is comparable to Egypt and Rome and challenge us to question what is really going on. Using an array of stats you are forced to ponder things that we usually gloss over. The last chapter of the book reads as a challenge to be a living Eucharist. How can we pour ourselves out for the betterment of others.
Overall I thought the book was good at unpacking what the authors wanted but I also feel like they left a lot unsaid. I have heard numerous sermons by Bell on these topics and there is more to unpack. I believe they left out a lot of the questions that could have been asked. I believe it will be easy for many to read through this and be unchanged.
Further, I believe this is toxic fuel for the haters out there. If you frequent the Christian circle in the blog world there seems to be no greater candidate who attracks more controversy and anger then Rob Bell. I am continually amazed at how offensive certain people are to cast stones on a man they have never met and misquote. Fear permeates those who attack Bell. I am one who has been largely influenced and sharpened by Bell. I find it crazy that many are unwilling to be challenged in their thinking. I don’t know if Bell has it all right but I know he doesn’t have it all wrong. Much like Hybels and McManus, Bell encourages me to explore, believe, and trust in Jesus more. I love learning from them and hopefully with the Spirit’s help I am able to communicate some of the truths aquired from them, others, and my own times with the Lord with others who are searching for truth and life.