Chapter 5: Dying to Live
Best chapter in the book. The middle of this chapter contains a very well stated and succinct take on God’s victory over sin and death and the implications that has on our lives. It is a chapter of hope. It is a chapter of love. He skillfully paints a picture of what sacrifice was about to the ancients and about the revolutionary movement Jesus Christ started. He lays out the importance of the cross and the end to the sacrificial system. He talks about the resurrection with skill and precision and makes some excellent connections back to Genesis and how the resurrection was really a new beginning for humanity. Good stuff. He writes about the injustice of the cross, not just the injustice to Jesus, but the injustice to us in a backwards sort of way…we didn’t deserve it but he did it anyway. This was all around a very well written and insightful chapter.
I struggle with whether or not to post the rest of this. Usually when I feel that way I just delete the paragraph because it probably won’t be helpful to post it. But I think there is a bigger issue that is illustrated in how this chapter is framed that can open up a dialog on how we view others and the way God works in their lives.
We should always view others through a lens of love. We shouldn’t be harsh critics. I don’t want to be a critic. I do want to seek the truth and some times that takes being critical of things that are presented in order to get to the truth. But I don’t want to be known for being a critic. I also don’t want to sound like I am crazy and looking for things to disagree with.
The difficulty I had with how this chapter was framed has to do with a story he used to bookend the chapter. Bell bookends this chapter with a story about going to an Eminem concert in 2010. Eminem came out on stage with a cross around his neck. Bell goes into a discussion about how we view the cross and launches into this marvelous chapter. That didn’t bother me. It worked. But at the end of the chapter he comes back to the Eminem story and puts it like this,
“Did Eminem stumble upon this truth? Did he, somewhere in his addiction and despair and pain, hit bottom hard enough that something died-the old, the hard, that which could never bring life in the first place? Did he stumble into that truth that’s as old as the universe – that life comes through death? Did he in some strange way die, and that’s why he is back? Is that why he wore the cross around his neck?” (p.136-137).
Before I lay out my thoughts on this…am I the only one who has trouble with that? Does anyone else have trouble with putting out the possibility that maybe Eminem had embraced God and the cross and had died to self and was now really living? Then he gets on stage, wearing his cross only to profane God’s name and sing about rape, murder misogyny, drugs, and all sorts of other evils. Anyone else feel a disconnect there?