Friday, August 12, 2005
By Rob Bell
The book I'm actually reading is Pride & Prejudice, but I couldn't resist my curiosity when I saw this on my brother's coffee table yesterday. One of my brothers has talked about it, and my blogging brother has mentioned it several times lately too. So while my twin nephews were napping, I started Rob Bell's new book. I didn't ask Daniel for permission to read it, so don't tell him.
In his opening words, he proposes that faith is like painting. Not A painting. Not something that is already complete.
This process, was reflected in the name that Luther's contemporaries originally called themselves, "Reforming." Not Reformed.
He says that because times change, and people change (God doesn't) we need to keep re-examining, refreshing, repainting the way we understand fatih. In the process, we might not really be finding NEW things. "I am learning that what seems brand new is often the discovery of something that's been there all along-it just got lost somewhere and it needs to be picked up, dusted off, and reclaimed."
One of my favorite ideas that Rob and my brother/pastor Daniel, have really expressed well is Jesus "way" of living (in the book of John). While I still think Jesus may have been speaking of himself as the way, the road, the only route worth travelling...leading to life, I do think we often miss the concept of living the "WAY" he lived and taught us to live. He was saying that living His way, generously, with forgiveness, without bitterness, compassionately, peacefully, listening, seaking wisdom, honestly...is a better way to live. It works because it is rooted in profound truths about how the world is. It is living in tune with reality. Ultimate reality. When we live this way, we are more in sync with how the universe is. Jesus knew this. He knew it would bring full, abundant, life. Because he IS Ultimate Reality.
When we really understand that Jesus is the way, we have to face that fact that it is not about being right. It's about living rightly.
I get caught up in being right about doctrine and theology instead of recognizing the real point. Doctrines of faith aren't the point. They do help us understand the point. And we should take them seriously, but in perspective. They are merely our own words...to help us better understand God. But the moment God is 'figured out' with lines and definitions, and rules, we are no longer dealing with God. If it is something that can be defined, it's just something we've made up...something within our control. And God is not. Through all the stories of the Bible, He is constantly reminding people that he is BEYOND, and BIGGER, and MORE!
I liked some other things he said about questions..and about Christianity not being a wall of "bricks" (doctrines, like creation, the virgin birth, the Trinity) that could fall if one brick is removed. God is not defined by a wall. He is bigger, stronger. Bigger than our faith, our doctrines. And He doesn't need to be defended. He asks us instead to love him. To live His way. To love others and invite them to join us.
I didn't even finish the first chapter. And I couldn't STEAL the book, so I'll have to wait to finish.