Thanks to Rob Bell and Don Golden I have been thinking a lot about exile this week. Monday morning I pickup the book Jesus Wants To Save Christians: A Manifesto For The Church In Exile As is normal for Rob Bell projects there is a great deal of knowledge displayed regarding the ancient ways of the People of God. In a very compelling argument, Bell and Golden show how God uses exile to enter into a new creation, to once again have the people of God connect with the purposes of God. Though I have not finished the book yet, it seems as though the conclusion is we in America are that people of God in exile. We have forgotten our story, failed to continue the blessing and seem to be strangers to the purpose of God. This is not good news.
So what do we do? The easiest option at the outset is to simply abandon the whole thing. Many have taken this route by working to keep connected with Jesus, yet leaving the church behind. This does not really solve the problem as much as it avoids it. Not to mention we are called to be the body of Christ, living in community as God is in perfect community, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Therefore while there is an attempt to stay connected to Jesus, the connection will fall short outside of the community we are called to be a part of.
Another option has been to simply go with the flow. I have heard it said, "Well we are not exactly what God intended with the church, but it seems to have worked this far." This frightens me. There is an acknowledgment we are off course, but because the doors are still open, for now, it must be okay.
For as many people who wrestle with this issue of a church in exile there will be that number of solutions. In reality there is no one solution. I do know it will not be easy. It will not simply be found in exchanging the organ for a band, and hymnbooks for projection. At the core it will involve individuals and communities to allow Jesus to make them a new creation. We must recapture the intend being the people of God. It is not for our sake, rather it is for the sake of those who have not yet realized the work of God in their lives. People are found to be in exile when they begin to think the blessing is meant for them, when they begin to think Jesus is only a personal issue. We are to live a live which we connect with God so that others may see the connection God has in their life.
It is time to come back from exile. It is time to allow Jesus to re-create us.