Hi, I’m a Christian missionary and I’m excited to read Rob Bell’s book.

You know I hesitated to write a blog about this for several reasons:

The cover of Rob's new book, "Love Wins"

  1. Everybody’s doing it.
  2. It’s the cool Christian thing to do.
  3. It’s probably already been said.

But the more I read other blogs on the subject, the more there was to think about. It first came across my radar on facebook. I saw where some friend of mine had read Justin Taylor’s blog and proceeded to lament on Bell’s “coming-out-of-the-universalism-closet.”

My first thought: Yeah, I’m sad. I’m sad that we’re already judging his intentions before the book is released.

My second thought: Now… where did they get that conclusion from in this video and in this little marketing post?

My third thought: What do I think about this?

And I think my third thought is the reason Rob Bell wrote the book. He wants us to think about heaven, hell, salvation, eternity, and the people who may or may not have it. I watched the video several times, and I hear no definitive statements from Bell on the subject. You know what I hear??

Screen-shot from the "Love Wins" promotional video.

Questions.

It’s refreshing to see people asking questions. I don’t want to “grow up knowing” or “be told” what it is that I believe. For the principle to take a deep, un-shakable, un-offendable root in my heart, I have to answer the questions for myself. And as somebody who deals with the college and post-college generations on a day to day basis… let me be the first to tell you that people are asking these questions. Those who have said the sinner’s prayer and those who haven’t are asking the very questions Rob Bell asks in his video.

And now I’m reminded yet again, that I need to think about my answers to these questions.

I travel around the world meeting people from different cultures, different religions, different social classes, and different penchants for morality. Everyday I get up and go to work in my clunky car to sit at a desk and type emails to young people just like me. I try to help them understand the needs in the world… the need for the hope of Christ… and that they are a part of the plan to get people to see and relate to Christ.

Do you know why I do that? It’s because I don’t want anybody to go to Hell.

Some of my friends and spiritual mentors have been chatting, and it’s like good, awesome, men and women of God are cheering for hell… are cheering for Christ to come back tomorrow so we can all get the heck out of dodge, cross the threshold of the pearly gates, and sit happily at the feet of Jesus…

… while the waitress at Cracker Barrel burns in hell.

… while Charlie Sheen is left behind.

… while some of their closest friends and family, who haven’t taken a hold of the forgiveness already given to them through Christ, rot eternally.

… while pimps, Johns, drug-dealers, murderers, and rapists never know what it’s like to be washed-over with forgiveness by the love of God.

Yeah, I believe Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. The one… Don’t doubt me on that. But sitting around and defending our position on why there is a Hell isn’t getting anybody out of  Hell any quicker. Shame on us.

Do you know why “Love Wins?” It wins because we get everybody to heaven and out of the horrid place of hell through loving them first. “Winning souls,” as Christians so often put it, starts with loving souls.

Somebody I respect and love asked me something important. “Why are we so excited to prove Rob Bell wrong? Why do we want to be right about this?” I think that is what disturbs me most about this whole deal… it’s showing our desire to be right is greater than the desire for people to encounter Jesus.

So what? What if Rob Bell comes out and says, “Everybody gets in!” I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t my exact prayer. I know a lot of people who need access to the Father… not because of the get-out-of-hell-free card, but because they are hurting, broken, and in need RIGHT NOW. Life can be a living hell you know.

The prostitutes and the men who use them: hurting. The men who travel thousands of miles, cross oceans, and empty their pockets to have sex with young, enslaved women: HURTING. I don’t want them to hurt anymore, and the love of Jesus is the only thing that will stop that from happening; it’s the only thing that will change them.  And when they encounter the love of Jesus and they stop hurting, guess what… they will stop hurting others.

Yeah, Jesus is the answer. He’s the answer and we better start sharing it, believing in it, and believing in the power of His love like we believe in the power of Hell. Otherwise we’re missing the point. I’m glad Rob Bell is asking questions. I’m glad He’s provoking us to understand what we believe and what that means for our day to day lives… and he’s doing that just by asking the questions… what might happen when the book actually comes out?

Yes, I’m a missionary and I’m excited to read Rob Bell’s book because I believe that LOVE WINS and all those people who are broken and hurting and lost will encounter Jesus because He loves them. My job is to be Christ to the world… to be the loving arms that feed, clothe, hold, heal, deliver, and set free… all of those who are hurting and broken.

What do you believe?

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16 thoughts on “Hi, I’m a Christian missionary and I’m excited to read Rob Bell’s book.

  1. Great Blog Ashley! Seriously I love that I have more questions than answers! Thanks for truly showing the LOVE of God!

    • Girl!! This is awesome, thanks for sharing and letting me read this. It’s amazing the sidetracks we get into instead of the focus. I haven’t read the book, and I don’t put any thoughts until I read it, but your post is great. Love wins because it’s Love that gets people IN.

  2. YES!! Amen sister! I just had some major verbal processing over many of these same things a few days ago. Why are we so upset over our stupid rules of who can and can’t go where and just focus on loving people and being concerned w/ how they knowJesus and know his LOVE! Not that we should be concerned w/ salvation, but I think so many of us need a perspective shift! Love it. Love YOU!

  3. Ashley, this is awesome! I have felt so much about this in my heart, but the former Southern Baptist in me has clashed with the present evangelical charismatic and had a hard time verbalizing it… But this is it.

    You know, when I was on the Race, I was so aware of things. This was one of those things. When I thought of the endless, endless, ENDLESS amounts of grace that have been poured out, all on me, I find that I understand the character of God more than I ever had before. And that understanding is, “No matter how much you fall, I’ll never let you go. I’ll always save you.”

    And then, it just seems to go against the character of this God that I know that there would be people who exist that would not get that due to the geographical location in which they are born. Doesn’t that seem completely unfair, especially when considering an all-knowing, ever-present God has a grace that is even more unfair?

    So, in my heart, I pray that when we stand before God, that He will let everyone in. But though I hold that hope, it means I have to live like it isn’t true, like I have a mandate with time-sensitivity on it and a mission to show the love of God to as many as possible… But in my heart, I truly hope that this grace that I have encountered so tangibly is able to be encountered by all.

    Anyway, I absolutely didn’t mean to process on this comment, because I just wanted to talk about how GOOD this blog is, but I ended up doing that anyway. Love you, Ashley!!

    • Wow, you said it pretty well Shannon. I love your comment, “Though I hold that hope, it means I have to live like it isn’t true, like I have a mandate with time-sensitivity on it and a mission to show the love of God to as many as possible.” That’s an awesome breakdown… keep processing away!

  4. I love this on so many levels, but at the most basic level, I just want to thank you for pointing out that all he did was ask questions. Btw, way to go for broke in taking risks on your blog today. I’m proud of you!

  5. WOW!!! You are a fabulous writer! I’m non-denominational Christian, on purpose, and I loved everything you just wrote here. So many time’s I’ve been ‘knocked’ down for expressing something you said so simply…”It’s because I don’t want anybody to go to hell”. Point justified for me… (I’ve had people call me names and put me down for my faith…(always behind my back to hear later), never imposing on them, just speaking my views when the ASKED for them).
    I feel like there’s this ‘taboo’ to talk religion… YET, people seem to provoke me and then it just come’s out… I feel, so often, that people DO want to know, otherwise they wouldn’t inquire, prode, or seek (and many more do so, than not, surprisingly).
    I am soooo proud to find you so verbal about this and outspoken!!! I LOVE it!!! Thank you! I hope to find more like you in my close circle. Life really is a gift and certain people are found/stumbled upon on purpose. Keep posting- your such a GOOD writer of your thoughts!!!

    • Thanks for reading more of my blogs! I appreciate your words of encouragement, especially on the writing. I look forward to reading more of your blogs and getting to know you better… we’ll be blog buddies!

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