On Monday I was part of a group that went to see Rob Bell at the Tabernacle. Rob is a pastor from Michigan--I've been to two training conferences at the church he is part of. He is in the middle of a month-long speaking tour called "The God's aren't Angry-Why people invented religion to make themselves feel better." The general idea of the talk was how religion has developed and evolved over time and that God has always been calling people to a new level of understanding and enlightenment. He spoke about sacrifices (animal, crops, human) and how the sacrifice system always fails. We can't really know where we stand with the gods.
Then he talked about how Abraham entered this historical perspective and how God called him to something that no one had done before: leaving his father and his father's way of dealing with the gods.
The lecture was 1.5 hours so obviously I'm not going to go on and on, but here are a few things that are lingering in me a day after the talk:
I tend to look down my nose at historically "primitive" people for the way they worshiped their "gods," but I have at times been willing to sacrifice my health, family, spirituality, friendships, and on and on to the gods of ambition, greed, money, and success. I'm beginning to realize (and last night was an great reminder) that these gods will never be satisfied. Checking out of the system may be the best bet.
Another thing that's working me over is that there is only one sacrifice left worth giving. The writer of Hebrews calls it, ironically, the living sacrifice. With all I've been blessed with and given, what will my response be?
Finally, there's no way to really know the heart of someone without actually knowing them, but you get the sense that Rob is doing his best to live what he is teaching. He could make major bank off this tour, but he is donating the money to an African microfinance project. He and his family have made a commitment to living simply (he is married w/ 2 kids and lives in a 2 bedroom home in a rough area of Grand Rapids). He talked honestly about the real challenges in life like suicide, depression, financial hardship, and without attempting to turn frowns upside down, looked for the redemption in hard stories. How do we find the resurrected Christ in our stories...even our most painful stories?
For those who went, I wonder what your experience was. For those who didn't, but are interested by some of these topics and ideas, let's get together to continue the discussion.