Heaven, Hell and the fate of everyones earthly life if you miss the point.

Hi.

So Rob Bell writes a book, loads of people attack him, another load of people attack the people attacking him, then another load of people choose to join in on the side of which they are most comfortable; and then a smaller group of people sit in the middle of the two camps and try to draw on the different points being made by the different camps of thought, whilst trying to remind the people in the camps that whether you agree or not with the different thoughts, disagree in love (I love these people so much, because of them we are avoiding some pointless divisions based of theological preference).

On ‘Love Wins’ and the ‘responses’
I’ve read the book, I don’t agree with everything written. I’ve read the arguments for and against, I don’t agree with everything written. However I must admit I am drawn to support team ‘Bell’ more then team ‘Hell’ (see what I did there?). Not on the basis of what is being said by that camp, but on the way in which it is being said. It would seem that the biggest issue of the people against Bell, is based around the fact that without Medieval interpretation on Hell there is nothing to fear. I may be wrong here, but the responses to Bell seem to be so focused around the need to keep an image of Hell that is fire filled and full of suffering in a human understanding of the word, for the ‘naughty people’ who don’t say ‘I accept Jesus into my heart’, come to church and tithe etc. What would we do if we couldn’t scare people to love God?!

I joke. sort of. The problem is both camps use the bible, both think the bible has all the answers (to varying degrees) yet they don’t agree. I wonder if this is what happens when we forget the Bible is a book of God’s interaction with HUMAN people, whom are trying to interpret the ‘unfathomable creator’ to the creation. Here I would like to point to revelation where John is basically struggling to describe what he sees… Maybe the answers we are looking for on Hell, are not as important as the mission that God, in my opinion, is calling us into.

Whats really important?
So Hell, eternal (literal medieval, dante stuff) or not (literal Gehenna), there is a choice. To step into the story of God in which we were created for, which is about the way we live and the way we speak and most importantly the way we love, or to reject it which is to live in Hell, now and until who knows (because we don’t fully know, sort of like a cloudy picture in a mirror…hmm I’ve heard that before). And as Bell says:

‘We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God’s ways for us. We can have all the hell we want’

So what should we really focus on?
Good question. How about following Jesus. Living a life in which all our ways reflect Jesus to the best of our abilities. Speaking truth over people. That God is Love, that God wants to spend this life and forever with us, bringing out of us the potential He put in us, and that we can reject it, but we will regret it, because this God made us and our very being is from him, to reject it is to reject life.

Does that sound ok? I think that if we (regardless of what camp we sit in) would just focus on the above, maybe the world wouldn’t see such an ‘ugly bride’, but the Church of Jesus. I often think we like to talk about this stuff more then do it and it often feels like people talk about it instead of doing it. The Church is Gods best plan for the world. 2 Billion people claim to follow Jesus in this world. Thats 1/3 of the world. 1/3 of the world believes Jesus is the answer to all that is wrong in the world; like poverty, like injustice, like rape, like cheating, like unethical banking, like debt, like abuse, like living for money, like consumerism, like dodgy politics, like selfish gain….thats just a rant list, you know all the rest. There is 1/3 of the world’s population, who if they really practiced what they preached, we would see more then a few charities doing good, we would see every person get the chance to have the best life God wants to give us all, BECAUSE the CHURCH would not spend so much time huddled in the changing rooms chatting about it.

I know this isn’t easy and I fail at this because I am selfish, I am lazy, I like the easy way, but thats not what we are called to, we are called to carry our cross, which I would argue isn’t just our failures, its the failures we see and can change. I want to take this challenge seriously and although it is hard, it is our role on earth. Not to scare people away from Hell but invite them into the life of Heaven, through our actions and then words, through seeking where the spirit is at work and stepping into it.

THE NOW REALLY IS ABOUT THE NOW AND THE NOT YET, THE NOT YET IS NOT YET, THE NOW IS NOW, SO LETS FOCUS ON THE NOW….AND THE NOT YET.

So if you disagree, bless you and I want to say I love you anyway and I will encourage you to use whatever understanding you have of Heaven and Hell etc, to love this world into the new one, the revelation 21 stuff!

Shalom.

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Lunch time snack – Pete Rollins

Hi Friends,

A good mate of mine posted this video on his facebook account and I wanted to share it all with you as I have a lot of time for this philosopher and enjoy his books. So if you have a break, have a watch and have a think.

Pete Rollins at Calvin College

I welcome your comments but please be integral 🙂

‘Absolutism (the idea that something has all the answers) and Relativism (all answers are valid) have one thing in common. They stop us thinking for ourselves’ Rollins

Reflection on the Mystery of God

Hi Friends,

So I haven’t blogged in a while which sucks so I thought I’d share a recent session/reflection I did on the mystery on God. Feel free to use it or ignore it. I don’t mind!

The ‘M’ factor
Recapturing the mystery of God

There are many things that we as people can predict, like the results of eating badly, drinking to much, not revising, or running in front of a car; but should this human skill of reason be used when it comes to understanding who God is? and if so how much should we rely on our reason? People still over eat, drink to much, fail exams and take a trip over a land rover. So even the best results of our reason are not perfect, yet we can so easily fall into the trap of claiming we who are not perfect can fully understand perfection. Its a bit odd and very unreasonable really… To think we can put God in a box and presume he will stay there. The Catechism states that the ‘Chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever’ and whether you like the catholic church or not, I think they hit this nail on the head. Do we have to know everything about something before we can enjoy it?

We are all guilty of this, even the most holiest of youth workers (that is a joke). To question, search and dig for understanding and worth, is part of the way we were made and I would like to suggest that is one of our most fascinating attributes, but is it really going to work on God, can we fully know God?

What am I not saying is that we cannot know God or better put that we can’t trust the Bible, quite the opposite! The Bible is full of stories that show us snap shots of what God is like and most importantly, we have Jesus! Through whom we see God in action still today with hands and feet and a cheeky bit of whit (maybe thats just in my mind). What the bible isn’t is a text book of answers. It is full of answers but it draws you into the journey not the exam room. The difference? the journey doesn’t stop, the exam ends and you forget everything about it. the journey is exciting and energizing whereas the exam is daunting and a means to an end.

Paul is often made out as the person who knows it all, he is the most dominant writer in the NT and is very good as making things tangible, ordered and simple to understand. The problem is he has this little rant in Corinthians 13 which I love because in amongst his practical letter to the Corinthians he basically says, but its not even about what you know its about how you love; because we don’t know it all, we can’t know it all, but we know love and we can do love:

‘We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.’

(Corinthians 12-13)

Part of our gift as humans is to develop and make something simple extremely complicated. Take the wheel. One bloke made a circle, someone imagined putting two together to make a cart and now we have space ships! Things you think you ‘know’ for a fact now, may change and develop and what you would fight for now may seem absolutely crazy in the future! you just don’t know, until the day Christ comes and all is restored. But as Paul makes clear until that day, you can have faith that God is good, otherwise he is not God, you can hope that Revelation 21 is the end game otherwise life is meaningless and you can love, which is the perfect expression of faith and hope and humanities greatest God like characteristic.

Get some head space:
1. Are you excited or scared by the thought that faith is a journey not an exam?

2. Paul says above all things we should love, what is your capacity for love, when someone says the phrase ‘Unconditional Love’, How does that make you feel?

3. Whatever you answered to 1 and 2 spend some time praying into it with God.

  1. – He wants you on this journey and if scripture is anything to go by God is gracious enough to walk it through with us.
    – Read Luke 24:13-35

Hope this was insightful!

Shalom.

The Bible is not God….

The Bible is not God. It has not and does not create, heal, save or restore. It is God the Father, Son and Spirit that does all that. Amen you all say

…So why is it that so many people seem to get the two confused? I just don’t understand some peoples logic. let me explain.

I’ll always rant about theologians and pastors who take shots at other believers and then go on telling as many people as possible about how right they are because they ‘teach the bible properly’…but that manor is so annoying and it is such an arrogant mentality for a follower of Jesus to have. All it is doing in the Church is making bigots and fanatics that would die for the Bible yet still hesitate for Jesus. There is something very wrong with that…

Please don’t misunderstand me. I think the Bible is God breathed (Tim 3:16) and I also believe that if we want to understand Who Jesus is and what following him looks like we only have to read the gospels and look at the church in Acts as they try and work it out. But what IS wrong (and only wrong when it is forced upon another) is the mentality that ‘If you don’t see this scripture this way…your wrong and therefore a heretic’. REALLY?

The Bible is not God. God is God and this God gave us scriptures so that we could see that YHWH is the only God and that following Him means following his Son…which is not a debatable subject:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)

or if you want it in short hand:

Love God. Love People.

And what does that look like? Well Matt 6 is a good place to start: Make your decisions God decisions not (I) decisions. Instead of justifying actions by verses, read the life of Jesus and make his decisions your decisions. Even though we are reading the life of a 1st Century Palestinian, nothing is new under the Sun, or subject to your culture, whether that be tribalism, materialism, or 2.4 children-ism. Jesus put Gods will at the center (his good, perfect and pleasing will-Rom 12) and then served those in need; and by served I mean…served..not preached…he preached to explain the actions but he started with actions.

I must say one more thing. Jesus is actually amazing. really amazing! I just wish we would remember that. His first preach (Luke 4:16-21) was basically I am here to do business with the distortions in creation…and he did. He actually did what he was saying he would! He would heal and then talk, feed and then explain, love and then correct. That’s the way Jesus did it, so why do we spend so much time talking? Church can so often feel like the changing rooms before a football match, we spur, challenge, get passionate about the game…but never touch the field.

A little disclaimer. I am not coming at anyone in particular to bring some sort of guilt trip. That is what I can’t stand…bullying people into the kingdom…that is not what the kingdom is about. This is just the thoughts of a Youth Worker trying to get on to the field where so many others are and at the same time encourage those on to the fields I have stepped out on to.

So thanks for reading. I hope this has encouraged you to read the gospels and get back to basics and get back in touch our creator and Savior; and in the words of St Francis:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. Amen.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection,starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love an pray for this day, and forever more.

Amen.