Ex-megachurch pastor Rob Bell wrote a NYT bestseller a few years back called Love Wins.
The premise of the book asks questions around the existence of hell, and expands on the different mentions of hell in the bible.
It also asks the question; “If God’s heart is that none would be lost, at the end of the day, does God get what God wants?
Since this time, Rob has become one of the most controversial, even ‘despised’ men in evangelical Christianity.
However, amongst the community of ‘Christian mystics’ and ‘evangelical fringe dwellers’, Rob’s a rockstar!
His podcast is ranked number one in the world in the spirituality category.
Two worlds divided… Again.
Love may not be able to tear us apart, but theology certainly can.
It doesn’t really make sense that a book called ‘Love Wins’ is hated does it?
And Rob’s not the first to be despised for suggesting unconditional love may just be God’s ultimate plan.
Jesus who never sinned was called a sinner, and the same Jesus who is love, was executed.
There’s something about the idea of unconditional love and grace that can expose a cancer in our souls.
I experienced this one day chatting to a young guy about this particular book.
As he was expressing his disgust, using language like “heresy,” “heretic,” “hell” etc, I couldn’t help myself, so I commented; “The idea that everyone may end up in heaven doesn’t sound like good news to you?”
“No, it’s not” was the answer.
I get it!
Truth be told, it’s not initially good news for me either!
Something within me believes that I deserve to be in heaven a whole lot more than some of you ragamuffins.
Can you hear my pride? My inner cancer?
When Jesus was here 2000 years ago, His message of unconditional love and grace exposed exactly the same self-righteous pride in a certain people group.
So they planned His death…
Unconditional love and grace is fantastic when it’s directed towards ourselves, but a stumbling block when directed towards others.
I want it, but I want to have a say in who else gets it!
We believe in unconditional love and grace, as long as it meets our conditions!
Our fam had a photo taken with Rob Bell…
Copped some hate, and a few ‘judgment bombs’ on this photo, as expected.
Irrespective of whether or not you agree with how he sees the world, you have to admire Rob Bell because it takes courage to publicly ask the tough questions.
Courage to start a global conversation that challenges the ‘truths’ which established religion already have very high levels of certainty around.
There’s a price to pay for starting a conversation like this, and Rob has definitely paid. (Google him)
I’ve observed there’s a particular people group that enjoy high level certainty, and react sharply when anyone challenges it.
I call this group; ‘Certain People’
Mark Twain said; “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so.”
I wonder how much we all know for sure that just ain’t so?
Ever had a conversation with someone who’s completely convinced they’re right, and certain about how they see the world?
From my experience, it’s usually not a dialogue.
It’s more like monologue…
The response to Love Wins from Rob’s critics has sounded more monologue than dialogue from where I sit.
Because ‘certain people’ are generally uninterested in discussion.
‘Certain people’ have a very static worldview.
Once a ‘truth’ is locked in, it’s locked in for good, and will be defended to the death. (Eddie would be proud)
The worst thing about a static worldview is we stop growing and expanding ourselves, because we already have all the answers to life’s big mysteries.
I hope to always be ‘wowed’ by the mysteries and unanswered questions in life, continually remaining open to new ideas and possibilities.
It keeps me alive!
But to stay alive I have to embrace uncertainty.
I’m not God, and I don’t have all the answers.
I don’t know for sure, who’s in, who’s out, who’s right, who’s wrong…or much else for that matter.
And that’s fine!
If you want a relationship with God through faith, then uncertainty and mystery is part of the package.
I don’t believe certainty and faith are friends in any way shape or form, but that’s another article.
‘Certain people’ aren’t monsters, they’re just scared.
When you peel away enough layers of a ‘certain person’s’ emotional onion, you’ll find the same core emotion time and time again.
‘Certain people’ are afraid.
Afraid of God, afraid of being wrong, afraid of punishment, afraid of going to hell, afraid of what they don’t know…
‘Certain people’ don’t feel safe without some black and white truths in their lives.
These truths mostly obsess around 4 things;
Certainty makes people feel safe.
It’s not a crime…
But it will strangle the life out of you.
At the end of the day, we’re just not in control of some things because we’re not God.
We don’t get to make the high level decisions, like who lives forever, who doesn’t, and why that is.
And we have to be ok with that.
If I get to heaven and everyone else is there, I could be miffed about it, or I could be grateful that I’m there.
I think God’s goodness is beyond our comprehension, so if He’s decided to save the whole lot of us, then good. It’s a nice gesture.
What do you think?
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