Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” is apparently stirring up controversy. From what I can see, many Christians are thinking that he is saying that hell doesn’t exist, and that anyone, who wants to, can get into heaven, no matter what they believe. I have no idea what he says in his book, as I have not read it. I did however just watch a couple of interviews with him, and he didn’t seem to give any sort of really concrete, controversial answer in any way. His main point is just that God loves everybody, no matter what. I agree with that.
The funny (not “ha ha funny” at all) thing about all of this is, while people sit around and argue about whether or not there is a heaven or hell, and the location, and the guest list, and the cover charge, and all of that, there are people around them who are living in literal hell on earth. People often get so caught up in “what is to come” they forget about what is happening now. If this earth, and all of the people within it were created by God, is He not concerned about this life, now? I’m worried about it. I think Jesus worried about it too. He is my number one Christian role model.
Even people like Bill Maher, an outspokenly anti-religion, anti-Christian person, agrees that Jesus lived an incredible life; I heard and saw him say it with my own eyes and ears in a video just yesterday. Jesus’s life was a literal example of how to live, love, serve and accept. His words and lifestyle offended the religious who were blinded by pride and legalism, but His life and words touched and comforted those who were cast out by society. He lived a life of selflessness, that many of us in the modern-day church will never be able to grasp, or even come near to; not that we shouldn’t try. I mean, He had no home or possessions to speak of, at least that we know of. These aspects often get left out of sermons and discussion in and around church and Christianity. Probably, and mostly, because we are often self serving, and we like our “things”, and we especially hate to be inconvenienced.
I think it is fair to say that humans are innately selfish. We often like to know what’s “in it” for us before we get into something. It is interesting to see different Christians’ reactions when you take the threat of hell and the enticement of heaven away from them; like, if you pose a question, which is very scary to them, “What if there is no heaven or hell?”. For some, it really puts the lives they are currently living in question, because the majority of their spiritual identity is placed on the afterlife. Maybe it’s a good question to ask ourselves, because I do not think it changes who God is; but maybe it changes who you thought God is, or how you have made Him to be.
And it is for this reason I respect people like Rob Bell, and Jesus, and Chris Boeskool (a Facebook friend who’s always challenging people’s beliefs and starting conversations on modern-day spirituality, and specifically wrote a note that got alot of feedback on this very topic). They don’t just accept the religious set-up as is, and they offer important questions to a continuous dialogue, and though some of these questions can only be answered with more questions, they are still not afraid to ask them. That is brave. Most people are scared to do that. And it is that fear in asking those questions that leads us to continue to guard our tiny beliefs with fury, while people sit waiting on the outside for us to respond with love. Because yes, often the lives those very people are living cause us to ask the deepest questions about God, life, humanity, and ourselves. Sometimes it’s easier just to defend what we already know, and ignorance is bliss.