Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell and Don Golden. I wanted to summarise the book here in the blog, but since I found such a good concise review of it on Amazon I thought I would just post that here instead, because this person has said all that I would have said:
Using the story of the Israelites and their journey from Egypt (in slavery) to Sinai (how to live in freedom) to Jerusalem (how they failed) to Babylon (the consequences), Bell begins to outline how we as Christians, and the church, should live in this world and seek to change the world for the better.
This is not about empire building, such as some Christians (particularly in the US think) but being people of change within the empire, like Jesus, and seeking to bring change from within.
It's challenging and written in Bell's refreshing style (often one sentence paragraphs!) and I found it is exactly the sort of 'manifesto' for describing what type of Christian we are to be, and what the church should be like, and should be doing (caring for the poor, fighting injustice, introducing people to Jesus).
I really recommend this relevant book. It has given me a clearer view of the big picture. It suggests that the Church as a whole is currently in a kind of 'exile' because we have failed to be faithful and obedient to God, and we are suffering the consequences. Examples given by Bell and Golden of the wrong way the Church has taken include backing the machinations of war and systems of greed way out of proportion to our levels of care for the poor and needy of the world. Harsh accusations, but if we are really honest with ourselves, there is truth to it. It could be excused by our ignorance, perhaps, but is that really a good excuse? And are we really that ignorant? Or do we just want to be comfortable and safe? I'm guilty, too.
According to Israel's repeated cycle, the next stage for the Church is to cry out to God in repentance. I don't know if we're ready for that. I don't know if we're ready for the sacrifices that would entail.