Let me preface this post by saying what many of you already know. I have not read Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins.” But this is blogging. We don’t have to have all the facts to make a judgement. And it’s such a big story that even CNN is covering it. So I did what every other blogger has done it. Watched the 2 minute 58 second promo on YouTube. The general attack on Rob is that he is preaching a message that borders on universalism. The general concept that you only have to be good to get into Heaven. That there are many paths to God. Pick one that works for you. Or as the great Bill S Preston, Esq said, “Be excellent.” Anyway, as I mentioned, I watched the video. While he is, as per his usual m.o. being provocative (he is, of course, the same pastor who wrote a book called “Sex God”), I don’t see universalism being taught. He is not saying Gandhi is in Heaven. He said that we don’t know for sure. And this is true. Now, I want to be clear about something. I believe what Jesus said when he said he was the way, the truth and the life and no one goes to the Father except through Him. So in that respect I believe that it’s not likely Gandhi is there. Though I personally don’t know if he had a late life conversion. Rather, what I got out of the video is this: we as Christians do a fantastic job of saving people by “scaring the Hell out of them.” We quote John 3:16 but don’t focus on the part that says He so loved the world. Jesus was sent to save a sinning world because GOD LOVES US! Love is the central message of the Bible. That’s the good news of the gospel. One of my favorite moments from Jesus is his interaction with the thief on the cross. That thief, on the brink of death, looked at Jesus and said I screwed up my life. I’m sorry. Can you forgive me? And our Savior, in His infinite love, looked at that thief and says “Today you will go with me to paradise.”. Not because it’s another number. They aren’t keeping score in Heaven. But because Jesus knows a heart. Jesus, and by extension, God, loves each and every one of us so much that even people who don’t get that until the eleventh hour still are welcomed. Of course, that doesn’t put butts in the seats on Sunday mornings so we need to save them young. And I certainly agree that life is better being lived with the knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did for me (that’s comforting. Jesus died for me, personally. And you, too.) But he did it out of love. Rob makes a great point. Jesus did not come to save us from God. He came to bring us to God. Hell is a place so bad, God does not, nor can he, exist there. God does not send us to Hell. We live in a fallen world We are already going there. Jesus came to rescue us from that. Out of God’s love. Pastors, you want butts in the seats on Sunday mornings? Love people. Love the homeless. Love the drunk. Love the gay people. The only way you can save them is through love. Do away with your basketball arena-sized facilities. Your programs that feed into programs. Love people. My good friend and Pastor, Darren Tyler said this about the feeding program we have in Haiti. It’s easier to listen to the gospel on a full stomach. Heck the Bible even preaches that. Jesus fed 5000 men fish sandwiches before he preached. Hunger is an all consuming feeling. You cannot focus when you have not ate. Remember that God is about love. You have to meet the people where they are and we all need love. Even Rob Bell. Even you and me.
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Love it Ben! Love is the way to go, it’s the only thing that never fails. I think we’ve all seen things done in “love” that look/feel/sound nothing like 1 Corinthians 13.
Have you read the book No Perfect People Allowed? If not I think you would enjoy it.