Here are my thoughts on Chapter 7 of "Velvet Elvis":
This quote is probably one of my favorites by Bell in this chapter:
"Jesus is God's way of refusing to give up on His dream for the world."
Think about that statement this way. After God created the world and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they ate the forbidden fruit and were forced to leave. Then Cain killed Abel...then a big flood came and destroyed everyone and everything that wasn't on Noah's ark...you get the idea...SIN entered the picture.
Eventually, God sends His son Jesus to the world to spread the news of salvation to the people. He is crucified and raised from the dead 3 days later. He was the ultimate sacrifice. Through this, we are offered the gift of salvation. This gift is open to EVERYBODY, but you have to accept it.
One thing I liked in this chapter is how Bell uses the stories of the Garden of Eden and Jesus' resurrection to show how Jesus is reclaiming God's creation:
"Back to the empty tomb and Mary's inability to recognize Jesus. She mistakes him for a gardener. Where is the first mention of a garden in the Bible? Genesis 2, the story of God placing the first people in a...garden. And what happens to this garden and these people? They choose to live outside of how God made them to live, and they lose their place in the garden. Death enters the picture and paradise is lost.
John tells us that Jesus is buried in a garden tomb. And Jesus is mistaken for a gardener. Something else is going on here. John wants us to see a connection between the garden of Eden and Jesus rising from the dead in a garden. There is a new Adam on the scene, and he is reversing the curse of death by conquering it."
One thing Bell talks about that I never really thought of before is why God created things and called them "good" instead of "perfect":
"The garden of Eden is not perfect. Nowhere in Genesis does it say it is perfect. The word the Bible uses is 'good'. There is a difference. When we say 'perfect', what we generally mean is 'static' or 'fixed' or 'unchanging'. It has reached a state in which there is going to be no more change. But this is not what Genesis says about the garden of Eden. Good means changing and growing and advancing and producing new things. And so these people are placed in the midst of this dynamic, changing, alive vibrant environment and charged with the divine responsibility of doing something with it."
Adam and Eve were given a choice when they were in the garden. They could care for the land according to God's instructions, care for the land against His instructions, or they could just do nothing at all. When they ate the fruit, they decided to do things their own way...and there was a consequence.
"The choices of the first people were so toxic because they were placed in the middle of a complex web of interaction and relationships with the world God had made. When they sinned, their actions threw off the balance of everything. Weather. Trees. Oceans. It is all one, and when one part starts to splinter and fracture, the whole thing starts to crumble. These people cannot be separated from their environment. One part falls out of harmony, and everything is affected."
Another topic Bell addresses in this chapter is how the church is at its best when it is serving others. He says that God chooses people to be used to bless other people. Nobody is used by God so they can feel good about themselves. They are used to serve OTHER people.
Another thing Bell talks about that I never really thought of is the idea that God blesses ALL people...even the ones who don't believe in Him. Now, I can understand how Christians would have a REALLY hard time with that. But think about it this way:
-The Bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust...meaning ALL people (whether believers or not) are going to go through hard times and suffering in their lives.
-So, keeping this in mind, wouldn't it make sense that blessings would come to the just and the unjust? For example, what do you do with a businessman who is highly successful and got where he is through hard work and was rewarded for it, but didn't call himself a Christian?
-What it all boils down to is ALL people are blessed. HOWEVER, those blessings won't mean a thing if you don't chose to follow Jesus. Eternity with Him is the best blessing of all, but not all people will receive it.
Finally, Christians need to start spreading the good news of Jesus out of love for people...not because of some agenda to convert people or make them one of us.
"Oftentimes the Christian community has sent the message that we love people and build relationships in order to convert them to the Christian faith. So there is an agenda. And when there is an agenda, it isn't really love, is it? It's something else. We have to rediscover love, period. Love that loves because it is what Jesus teaches us to do. We have to surrender our agendas. Because some people aren't going to become Christians like us no matter how hard we push. They just aren't. And at some point we have to commit them to God, trusting that God loves them more than we ever could."
And with that..."Velvet Elvis" is done!! My quick review...I think it's a very good book that needs to be carefully studied. I think the reason some Christians waste their time criticizing this book and taking quotes out of context is because the time they should have used to CAREFULLY think about what's being said was wasted with criticism. Read this book for yourself.
Thanks for reading!