In light of yesterday’s post, below are the five things I wish I could say to each and every person reading today. (You may want to catch up on the previous blog before you continue).
1. Be someone who loves the Bible, trusts the Bible, leans on the Bible. Be someone who trusts the Bible as the authority on you and your reality; define what’s true based on what it says – not on what you perceive. The degree to which we trust the Word of God is measured by the degree we will submit to the hard parts, not the easy things.
2. Seek to Know God. There are parts of God that are unknowable. We will spend eternity getting to know God; it will take that long. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that we can’t know anything about God. Bell approaches God as if there is nothing concrete about Him; nothing to stand on, nothing to know for sure. But we can know God. Really know Him. We can know what’s true about life and death because it’s written down for us. I have zero issue with questions. I’ll spend all day asking and discussing any question you want. As long as it really is a question. The definition of a question is seeking an answer. So seek answers. Don’t just ask questions for the sake of creating enough ambiguity for you to do whatever you want. Questions without any desire to find answers are not questions at all.
3. Let the God of the Bible be your authority. I love my pastors and I trust the men who teach me the word of God each week. At the end of the day though, I want to be someone whose ultimate authority is not a man or a speaker, but the word of God. Show me what’s true in the Bible. Teach me how to live from the Bible. I want to be someone who can measure the validity of a teaching for myself because I know the Bible well. A teacher’s responsibility is to do their best to be faithful to the unpack the word of God. A student’s responsibility is to feed off the Bible; to create a firm foundation so that they are not swayed by whatever sounds good or makes uncomfortable feelings go away.
4. Never determine truth based on feeling. Not everything that feels right is true and not everything that feels wrong is false. Let truth be determined objectively and let your heart seek to respond to that truth – not define it.
5. Don’t be embarrassed by the God of the Bible. I feel the awkwardness that makes me want to censor even this blog because I’m worried about how my non-Christian friends will respond. I want to be God’s PR company; working to make Him more appetizing. I understand that desire in the heart of Rob Bell. I understand why he wants to get the distracting stuff out of the way and show the ‘best’ side of God to the public. But God doesn’t need better PR. God doesn’t need me to cover for Him. He is not ashamed of His justice and wrath. He is not embarrassed by His holiness. He has created all this so that we might know Him as He is, and as for me – I don’t want to spend myself working against that. I want to spend my life making Him more clearly seen, not trying to conceal the things I don’t like about Him. I’m not ashamed of my God.
I can’t make light of the controversy. Because I have faces in my head; faces of women who trust teachers to be the voice of God in their lives. And faces of women who are troubled and pained by the God of the Bible because He doesn’t do what they want and He doesn’t act as they wish. And I can see the relief on their faces as someone holds out to them a version of Christianity that will let them create their own god.
I can’t laugh and make light of what is happening and I can’t stay silent about it, because there are things in the Bible that are more than ideas to me. I’m banking everything I am on these ‘concepts’. And if I’m wrong I am indeed to be pitied above all men.
I want to spend the first fruits of who I am seeking to know this great God and when I find things I don’t like or that make me uncomfortable I’m going to conclude that it’s me who needs to change – not God.
I have your face in my head and my heart even now. Don’t be swayed by this world. Don’t be distracted. Nothing matters more today than knowing the real and living God. I don’t care what you have on your to-do list today – carve out the first fruits of your time to know Him as He reveals Himself in His word.