Yesterday I simply posted an article that was an interview with Rob Bell. I didn’t comment on it at all, I just posted it. It wasn’t long before I started getting comments from my fellow Christians about how Rob Bell is a “false teacher” and leading people down a “slippery slope”. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that.
In my discussions and in some articles I’ve read from his detractors, what I can surmise is that Rob Bell isn’t “properly” preaching the gospel. Specifically he doesn’t talk about Jesus and our need for a savior “enough”. He doesn’t warn enough of the fiery dangers of Hell that us sinners rightly deserve.
And so he’s a false teacher.
Now, I fully believe that we are all sinners. I fully believe that Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins in order to reconcile us with the Father. But interestingly enough, for the first 30 years of my life, that story never got me to go to church. It never got me to seek out God. It never got me to serve others. Why?
I don’t think that ever sunk in because I was a pretty good guy really. I worked hard, I took care of my family, I taught my kid right from wrong. I simply did not feel like some awful, horrible person in need of a savior to be perfectly frank. And I think that’s a common mindset.
I think there’s also a portion of the population who has simply been beaten down by life. They’ve been convinced that they are failures and they are no good. They’ve been abused and taken advantage of and they are hurting. And we’re going to tell them that not only has life screwed them, now God is going to kill them unless they first admit how awful they are?
Think about how that sounds to the uninitiated.
What finally “turned” me, was a Pastor named Steve at Clovis Hills who presented me with a new image of God I had never really seen before. A God that loves us and wants the best for us, RIGHT NOW, here on this Earth. A God that created us for a bigger purpose than just working jobs and buying stuff. A God that wants us to reach out and help others. A God that wants us to be content, and fulfilled, and loved. A God who’s burden is light. That’s the message that made me begin to trust God with my life. That God I could buy into.
Now, did I then begin to understand my own sinful nature and the importance of Jesus in my life? Yes I absolutely did. I fully believe that is a crucial component of our faith. But it was the initial message of hope, and promise of contentment and security in God’s love that lit the fire in me to begin with.
I share this to make a simple point. That maybe guys like Bell and other pastors who are routinely accused of “misleading” the flock are not misleading at all. Maybe they are guys who are simply reaching people on the level of life they are at. Maybe we’re all different, with different life experiences and different temperaments. Maybe to reach each of us, God presents the many facets of himself to us in different ways, in order to reach us where we live.
What I’m proposing is; What if God is so much bigger than the “five step plan to salvation” we’ve come up with? And what if, with our arguments over “how” the Good News should be shared, we’re actually getting in his way?