For those who are not familiar with the Emerging Church, Rob Bell is the pastor of one of the first “emerging mega-churches,” Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan. He has released this series (called NOOMA) of 13-minute videos that retail for $12.99. That’s about a buck a minute…which seems like a lot, but I must tell you—“Trees” is worth every cent.
While speaking, he plants two trees in the city. He explains, as he plants the first tree, that in Genesis there was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that at the beginning of the story, God gives us choice.
God says, ‘You can live how you want to live, or you can live how I created you to live.’ It’s almost as if God says, ‘It’s your choice.’ ...It’s still our choice.”
Then he goes to his right and begins digging a hole for a second tree. And he tells us about Revelation.
We’re told that we’ll actively participate with God in taking care of the world that we find ourselves in. It says there’ll be peace with each other, that there’ll be peace and harmony with God, and in the middle of it all will be a tree.
If that’s how it ends, and Genesis is how it begins, then we have to ask the question, ‘Do we live between the trees?’”
But if we live "between the trees," Bell asks, is the only purpose for life to “hope and wait” for the future?
Hoping and waiting? Is that it? Are we just hanging around until some future date when something great happens and then we kind of get on from there? I need a God who is now. I need a God who teaches me how to live now. I need a faith that’s about today; that helps me understand the world that I live in today, the world that you and I know as here and now and the place—earth—that we call home. I need to know how to live here and find meaning and purpose today. This is my understanding of Jesus’ message.”
And then he explains a misperception of some religious people about the reason for having faith in God in this life:
Now, some people see faith like a ticket. It’s like, if you believe the right things and if you nod your head at the right times then, when you leave, you get to go to a better place. And so, essentially, faith becomes a bit like fire insurance: It’s like a guarantee that something bad won’t happen to me one day. So this life is like a waiting room for the next place, and there becomes no real point to this life except for getting people to believe like I do and convincing them that they need to be like me and we’ll all go to the same place. What ends up happening is that people are just hanging out, and waiting. But what good is a faith that doesn’t have anything to do with today and the world that we find ourselves in now?”
Bell then proclaims the gospel of the Kingdom of God! (YESS!!!)--that Jesus teaches his followers to live as a force for good in the world, to work with God to overcome evil with good, to work as people of peace and justice, for mercy and grace.
Followers of Jesus are people who are committed to partnering with God to make this world, the world that we live in, the kind of place that God originally intended it to be.”
Do yourself a favor and purchase and watch (and re-watch) NOOMA Trees.
technorati: spiritual formation