Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On John Piper, On Rob Bell, On Parenting and On Leaving A Legacy...

If you have been on the Internet (particularly on Facebook or Twitter) this week, you would have seen an avalanche of posts and tweets regarding Rob Bell's not-yet-released book, Love Wins, and the reaction that ensued after John Piper's simple tweet saying: "Farewell Rob Bell," interpreted by many as John Piper's dismissal of Rob Bell from the evangelical circle.

My heart became very saddened upon reading the multitude of posts and tweets... many of which negatively portray Rob Bell.  For the record, I am NOT pro or anti Rob Bell, nor am I pro or anti John Piper.  I've never read books authored by either of them before nor do I follow either on Facebook or Twitter.  What I do know is that both are gifted teachers and both have growing and flourishing ministries.

I just find it very disheartening that Christians seem to be OK with attacking and judging fellow-Christians, just because the other person or group does not have the same "school of thought" as they do.

This is precisely the reason why many people do not want anything to do with the church... because Christians do not act like Christ.  There is a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi and it says:
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
It's so true.  Sadly...

I admit that I, too, got drawn into the controversy by commenting on a Facebook post.  I found myself insinuating to people that they need to wait until they have read the book themselves before coming to any conclusions.  Whatever happened to "do not judge a book by its cover"???  People were also taking the book trailer video out-of-context... but I digress.

Anyway, all that to say... I found myself asking the question: Do we, as Christians, really need to choose between the Rob Bells and the John Pipers?  Can't both be right and accepted at the same time?  Why or why not?

God is always gracious... my answer came in the form of an article posted on the Red Letter Christians blog.  If you have the same questions as mine swirling around in your heart and mind, this is a good blog post to read!  

This is how the author ended the blog post:
So let me conclude with a portion from my own humble attempt to provoke Christians to re-engage Scripture for themselves by responding with a parable to questions that many young Christians are asking re: heaven, hell & the God revealed in Jesus:

On that day, everyone from every nation were raised from the dead as all of creation gathered around the glory of his burning throne. As the brilliance of the seraphim and cherubim circled above, humanity was separated into two groups. Some started asking each other “did you accept Jesus?” In both groups you could hear people saying:

I went forward at that rally!

I’ve never heard of Jesus!

I went to church and played bass in the band!

I was born centuries before him!

I drove out demons and did deeds of power in his name!

I was a good person, I’ll be going to heaven!

The Son of Man, frustrated with the talk of ‘going to heaven,’ interrupted the babel and confusion with a clarifying question that silenced all of creation:

“You thought this was about going somewhere else? Did I teach you to pray ‘Your Kingdom we’ll go?’ or ‘Your Kingdom come?’ I have come to bring heaven here, not to take you elsewhere. Heaven isn’t a ‘place’ that you go, it’s the very Presence of God that I bring. And now, those who have responded to God’s grace and have not dammed Heaven from flooding the earth by accepting me will inherit this kingdom of a transfigured creation.”

The seas roared with the outcry and joy from within both groups as some lamented they have never heard of Jesus let alone accepted him, while others ecstatic that they prophesied and saved souls in his name.

Then the King with a voice like lightening silenced the nations with this stunning declaration:

“You accepted me, as a child solider in Darfur, as a Thai child enslaved in sex trafficking, as a refugee seeking to enter your country, as a disabled black youth on death row, as a homeless vet on the streets, as a gay youth victimised in High School, as a drug addicted prostitute needing a meal, as an inmate needing a visit …”

As the list of where Christ had been camouflaged throughout creation went on, a shockwave rippled throughout all of reality at the realization that the two groups were not separated by their doctrines or ideas about Christ, or grace, or Heaven, or hell. They were separated by their response to the saving grace of Jesus in the most vulnerable and oppressed. The reality of this revelation for one group felt like eternal punishment. And for the other, eternal life. Eternal Life of the New Heavens and the New Earth liberated from all that does not look like Jesus’ Calvary-shaped love.

How might this conversation change if we include in the list of where “Christ is camouflaged”; the “neo-Calvinist brother” and the “Rob-Bell-reading-N.T. Wright-loving sister”?
Now on to parenting... this article has put into words what hubby and I desire to leave as a Christian legacy to our children and it is how we answer this question: What should our response be to the saving grace of Jesus in the most vulnerable and oppressed?

On the day of Christ's return, I would like my family to be standing on the side that can say we responded as Jesus would, where Christ had been camouflaged throughout creation --- in the last, the least, the forgotten, and the forsaken!  

And, that I didn't care to engage in the debate on whether John Piper or Rob Bell is right! :-)  I'm glad that I don't have to choose either side... because I am on Jesus' team!  Hallelujah!!!

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God! 

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