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An excerpt from a beliefnet interview with "Velvet Elvis" author Rob Bell:

QUESTION: You talk in the book about the "big Jesus." Tell me about the big Jesus that you know and how that differs from "small" or "smaller Jesus" or even "eentsy, beentsy, microscopic, teeny, weeny, little Jesus" out there.

ANSWER: For many people the message of Jesus was presented as an individual message of salvation for their own individual sin: "Jesus died for you." I affirm that wholeheartedly, but in the scriptures, its scope goes in the opposite direction. It begins with the Jesus who dies on the cross and rises from the dead. But as the New Testament progresses, you have writers saying that "by his shed blood he is reconciling everything in heaven and on earth." Peter says in Acts, "He will return to restore everything."

So it is a giant thing that God is doing here and not just the forgiveness of individuals. It is the reconciliation of all things. It is the putting back together of the whole universe how God originally intended it to be. One way to look at it is that the message is an invitation into God’s giant, global universal purposes that "I" actually get to be a part of.

I’m trying to get the focus where the first Christians seem to have had the focus. It is easy for it to become a very selfish thing—"look what I’ve got"—as opposed to "by the grace of God look at this amazing thing that he’s been inviting people into for thousands of years." And that is quite an awe-inspiring, amazing thing.

IN LIGHT OF THIS, A QUESTION FOR YOU, SHLOG READER: When someone first told you about this Jesus person and what he came to do, why He died on a cross, came to earth in the first place etc, how much of the focus was placed on YOU and how much was placed on ALL THINGS? How much emphasis was on YOUR decision and YOUR need and YOUR eternity and how much was EVERYTHING ELSE talked about, life here and now and everywhere? Have you mostly thought about "salvation" as a "personal relationship with Jesus" OR as a rescue for all of creation OR as a combination of the two OR as something totally different? How big is Jesus to you? Why do you think this way?


Blogger GrovesFan said...


I feel a brain cramp coming on right now! How come you never ask the easy questions!

I would say that as a seven year old (that's when I asked Jesus into my heart), that it was definitely more about the personal sacrifice He made for me, simply because I didn't understand the "bigger picture" yet. Even though I firmly believe that Christ would've still hung on that cross if I was the only one that required saving, I know that it's not about JUST me. My relationship with Him is very personal, but my service and hopefully therefore, my success at bringing Glory to His name is more global. By that I mean that I study His Word for my growth and benefit, but the desired outcome is that it makes me serve Him better and more completely. I know that my sin alone isn't what brought the world to the place it is now, but I also know that that isn't what matters. God desires a personal relationship with us because that's why He created us in the beginning, for His pleasure. The return to that requires that we all be restored to Himself. In the end, whenever God decides that it's time, He will restore all believers to Himself and those that have rejected Him for the final time, will be separated from Him for eternity. I know you get all that Shaun, but many unfortunately do not, and that's where The Church has failed miserably. By isolating ourselves, by not loving the least of these, we have failed to show them Christ and the relationship God desires with everyone.

Thanks for asking the tough questions in an open forum. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would, but maybe that's because you haven't told me yet that I completely missed the mark on this one (again) and my brain will surely hurt when I finally get it right. Teach me wise one. I await the receipt of your wisdom.


Anonymous Randy Webb said...

To me "salvation" is both personal and "global". It's first for the setting straight of things on earth, then personal. But WAY too much emphasis is placed on "ME" "I" "MINE" in modern Christianity. It's not about "us" exclusively, but for an entire world.

Which touches on another subject that I've been pondering and maybe you can touch on it here sometime.... Why do "church People" shun the very world they're called to bring to Christ? It's all ohh, we can't have that homosexual visiting here, or that man has green hair.. he/they are not of God and have no place in the "church". It's turned into a "saints club" shunning anyone who isn't Christlike.. thus shunning Jesus Himself.

Well that got completely off course. But, your words and thoughts always inspire me to a closer intimacy with our Lord.

Thank you for listening to my little rant.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is something that i have been wrestling with...I don't think I have a "works" based theology...but the more I look at it from an outside perspective, the more i think that I do. I used to think back in Bible College "how could that group of people be so un-christian and then show up in chapel and worship next to me?" Aren't they taking advantage of grace??? And then after gut wrenching mind wars, I finaly came to a calm place...that is what it is there for, prideful people like me, and the party crowd as well.

The Big Jesus is so hard to put my mind around...to truly try to understand grace, not an excuse, but grace...

In the end we've won the war, but we are still fighting the battle daily?

Blogger Drew said...

I can't really remember the first time I heard about Jesus, considering I was probably 2 or 3 when I first heard. However, I remember at the point of salvation for me, I was focused my relationship with the Lord, as I think we should be. When you are talking to an individual about salvation, it is personal, dealing with their specific needs. Jesus did the same thing in addressing individuals during His earthly ministry. However, this idea of big Jesus is an amazing one. I think I like that idea because it gives unity to the scriptures, or rather it is birthed out of the unity of the scriptures. The Bible from cover to cover is God's story: how He created, we screwed it up, and He is working history to a point where all will be made right again. The Bible is about Jesus, and his redemptive work for individuals, for the creation, for all things. Rescue is coming...

Blogger Amy said...

I was just a child when I first discovered Jesus, and I can't imagine many three year olds making decisions that didn't have much to do with themselves. :-) As a teenager, when I realized I really did want to follow Jesus, He was the burst of hope and light in my darkness. As a young adult, after the end of a sinful and destructive relationship, He was my rock and the grace and righteousness He offered I longed for with all of my being.
I am a tiny piece in the big whole, and yet He knows how many hairs are on my head. He's asked me to give my life away...so that I can find it. He knows that His plan to right the wrong of the universe will very intimately involve my life. And yours. I am so thankful that He can be so personal and so universal in the very same instance.

Blogger Fruitcake said...

lly?Hearing about Jesus since the time I was in my mother's womb was always the "for God so loved the world" and "everyone's a sinner" so on and so forth. Sunday school teachers included "everyone," but missed everyONE. Not until I was 4 was I introduced to Jesus as the Christ who died for ME, not only everybody. Salvation is HOW you obtain a personal relationship with Jesus, not a relationship alone. I'm restraining myself from the sanctification rant.

I've never been presented with salvation beyond souls; something I've searched out on my own, but I remain in the dark about. I've not met a person who isn't selfish when it comes to grace. Sad, but true. I'll not rant about that either.

Jesus is as big as it gets. He never conformed to this world while being flesh, yet reached beyond sin to the sinner and loved like no other can. I still think I'm missing something from the big picture.

Blogger Paula said...

I think at the time of salvation, it is a personal, 'small' revelation of Jesus, as compared to the 'larger', global view. That's how it was with me. But, as I mature in my faith, I begin to see the global aspects. I see it as a continual unveiling of aspects of God's love. God's plans are bigger than anyone can comprehend, and he can work in the small just as much as in the big.

Hope that makes sense.

Blogger Photini said...

I've been throwing some of this stuff around, too. To answer your question, read my blog in order (it's short).

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming from a Catholic background, I have to admit that my first response to born-agains and their talk of for ME for Me for MEEEEE was amazement at their self-centeredness, and their insistence that I be just as self-centered.

Of course, trying to explain that just set them on a continuous loop of for YOU for ME for YOU for ME....no point in arguing with that.

The thing was, these guys so convinced that God loved them personally were the same ones that had to end every single prayer with "inJesus'nameamen". Can I laugh now, decades later? It still always sounds to me like they're hedging their bets, secretly terrified that God will have completely forgotten them.

Blogger Lydia said...

i have been thinking and struggling alot with this question recently. i have begun to rethink the idea of salvation that has been taught to me from birth.

the idea of the cross not having to do with us...thats actually in a Shane and Shane song...

when we use the cross in terms of us we come so entangled with ourselves and our sin, instead of focusing on His resurrection, and that He came to give us LIFE. Abundant life!

Blogger Kathryn said...

i was taught both. . that Jesus saved me and He saves the world. I have since come to know that Jesus doesn't just give salvation, He IS salvation for people and for His creation. How big is Jesus to me? Depends on when you ask me. . . He's always BIG and yes, even 'scary', but sometimes i have problems with my spiritual vision and its like the 'objects in mirror may appear' thing, you know? i get a distorted view- i don't realize what size He is or even indeed how close He is.


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