You know I hesitated to write a blog about this for several reasons:
- Everybody’s doing it.
- It’s the cool Christian thing to do.
- 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??
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?