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Posts Tagged ‘love wins’

Like probably many of you I have met people who are fascinated, compelled, or drawn to Jesus, but some question or obstacle keeps them away. They may have heard from a Christian, “This is how it is – end of discussion. The Bible says it, so that settles it.”

Or they might have been taught that to follow Jesus, they had to go down a certain road and believe certain things, some of which they found problematic. What interests me is the power of questioning and the experience of solidarity in finding you’re not alone—of always wondering, “But what about that?” and then finding out, “Oh, other people feel the same way.”

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Rob Bell wrote a book back in March 2011 called Love Wins.  You may have heard of it.  The subtitle – A Book about  Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. If you haven’t read or heard of this book – its not a book about hell, fire and brimstone.  It’s a provocative book that upset lots of fundamentalist Christians.  For me, that was a compelling reason to get myself a copy.

The first chapter of Love Wins poses this interesting question:

If a missionary got a flat tire, and missed meeting with a nearby village, would this really mean that the villagers missed the only opportunity to hear about God, and would not be saved? Would a flat tire mean that they are all destined for hell?

This of course raises a couple of far more disturbing questions like:

Is your future in someone else’ s hands?

And then the next question:

Is someone else’s eternity resting in your hands?

Perhaps Rob’s purpose here is that we get loosened up with the questions – that the questions pull out us out of ourselves and wake us up, like a triple shot flat white coffee. It’s okay. There should be no fear in the questioning and no hesitation in the asking. We can go there. The biblical tradition, particularly the Hebrew tradition, is actually filled with questions, all the way to Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Many people are afraid to question their faith, having been taught that this is tantamount to either rejecting or losing one’s faith. The best evidence against this line of thought is the Bible itself, in which both God and all the main characters ask many, many troubling questions.

Asking questions is, in fact, a means God often uses to help us rid ourselves of limited and wrongheaded notions about God, so that we catch a larger and expanded vision of who we worship. The bible is full of questions, and full of people who have many doubts and need answers.

By the way – if you’re still stuck or maybe uncomfortable about the two questions following the flat tyre question above then the answers are “most likely no – God has a Plan B.”

Perhaps questions are actually one of the ways we meet the Divine. Somewhere in here we find our own questions and we learn that we are never alone.
And the quest – behind the question is even more interesting and compelling than the questions.

May you, my brothers and sisters remember this week that the questions of life may be more important than the answers. May you recognize your quest behind the questions and may this take you to a place where you can sit in wonder and awe at what the Divine is doing in your life and how much he loves you.

Grace and Peace.

The Quest Behind the Questions

The questions that we ask
Follow the answers the we seek
They riddle the hours of our lives
As our days become our weeks

As we strive to understand
The complexities of life
We miss the here and now
As our worries lead to strife

As we wonder how the past
It teaching us the way
We miss the burning bush
As we rush past it every day

It is not the ‘why’ the matters
As we seek to know the reason
Don’t we just accept the sun
As it moves through every season?

Perhaps the ‘what’
Is the one compelling question
As it grounds us in the present
With it’s beckoning suggestion

That perhaps these questions comfort us
As we seek what keeps us safe
As our present hope is anchored
On our the object of our faith

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No Wonder?

Since departing Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids,  and relocating to Los Angeles, I haven’t heard a lot from author and poet Rob Bell.  Last week he released a new video, reminiscent of his Nooma series.

In this video Rediscovering Wonder, we find Rob Bell strolling through some back alleys in what could be his local neighbourhood.

One of the interesting points about the video, though, is that it seems to be a direct response to his critics. Since the release of Love Wins in early 2011, Bell has sustained several attacks by his critics. The constant criticism leveled at the book Love Wins brought with it accusations by some of heresy, including claims of universalism and complete rejection of classic Christianity. I bet most of these people had never read the book.

While I didn’t necessarily agree with all his points in Love Wins, what I do recognise is that Rob Bell has an exceptional gift in communicating in person, through video and in the written form.  He is without doubt one of the most brilliant communicators of all time.

The last time I read of such criticism, and calls for heresy was probably in the Bible – just before Pilate decided that Jesus should be crucified.  Interesting isn’t it?

Whatever your views of the work of Rob Bell, this video clip challenges us to rediscover our sense of wonder and awe.

I’m not even going to try to come up with a poem this week on wonder.  There is no need.  This video about wonder and awe is pure and simple poetry in motion.

So what about you my friend?  What is your response?  What will you do differently to embrace wonder and awe?  Here or somewhere this week share your story.  It may just help someone rediscover wonder.

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Love Always Wins

Rob Bell in his book Love Wins addresses one of the most curly issues of faith – heaven and hell.  Bell asks the question, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever?  Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is quite hopeful. Eternal life doesn’t start when we die – it starts right now. Really?

Bell has attracted a lot of criticism about this book and his overall theme of universalism – the belief that all people will eventually be saved, given enough time.  There are a lot of reviews, good, bad and very ugly about what Rob Bell has to say about heaven and hell.  It seems to me that most of the people who claim that Rob Bell is a heretic are the same people who have never read his book.

I’ve read his book.  I think it’s great.  I’ve asked these questions, and I still don’t think I have the answers.  I do believe God has the answers, and that God is love, and that love wins.  I have many favourite parts of the book but this quote struck me:

May you experience this vast,
expansive, infinite, indestructible love
that has been yours all along.
May you discover that this love is as wide
as the sky and as small as the cracks in
your heart no one else knows about.
And may you know,
deep in your bones,
that love wins.

This book really got me thinking. here’s my reflection:

Heaven on Earth

in between the now and the not yet
we live here on earth
waiting for heaven
where on earth is heaven

in between today and tomorrow
we live on earth
day after day, some days
seems like hell on earth

perhaps eternity
is set in the hearts of men
perhaps the kingdom of heaven
is within us

perhaps, just perhaps
heaven is a place on earth
not now, but here
sometime, someday

a new heaven and a new earth
one day, in God’s time
because God is love and
love will always win

Finally, here’s a video clip about Rob Bell’s book (by Rob Bell), view it, read the book and then judge for yourself.

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