Jesus, Rocks and Weed: Love Wins Ch. 6
Rob Bell begins his sixth chapter telling a story of a man he met who came to know the Lord in a very real way while smoking pot. In the midst of smoking pot in his home, this man felt a deep sense of love that literally knocked him to the floor and his only option was to accept this love and become a follower of Christ. Bell then weaves in the story of Moses striking a rock and water coming out to quench the thirst of the people. He makes the point that Paul makes later in the New Testament that Jesus was present in the rock (1 Cor. 10). God uses a variety of means to draw people to himself.
Rob then discusses the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was not just a man but divine. He was God in the flesh. Jesus was there when the world was created and has been involved in creation ever since. Bell writes, “Jesus, for these first Christians, was the ultimate exposing of what God has been up to all along.” The mystery of God was revealed in Jesus.
And who is this Jesus for? Everyone! Not just for the Jews but for the Gentiles. Rob writes, “He is for all people and yet he refuses to be co-opted or owned by any one culture. That includes any Christian culture. Any denomination. Any church. Any theological system. We can point to him, name him, follow him, discuss him, and believe in him-but we cannot claim him to be ours any more that he’s anyone else’s.” The Gospel is for everyone, everywhere.
Now Bell gets a little interesting and this is probably where some Christians get angsty with Rob. He quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14). Rob makes it clear that Jesus is the only way to God. But he also writes, “And then there is an exclusivity on the other side of inclusivity. This kind insists that Jesus is the way, but holds tightly to the assumption that the all-embracing, saving love of this particular Jesus the Christ will of course include all sorts of unexpected people from across the cultural spectrum.” Salvation is through him and there are all sorts of possibilities in how he will draw people to himself. Maybe even reaching out to a guy smoking pot in his kitchen. God’s love cannot be put into a box.
Some people come at this book with the notion that Rob Bell’s theology is out of line and suspect. Those people read the book with that lens and find a chapter like this and get all hot and bothered. Then other people are open to new ideas and don’t believe that theology fits into a nice, little box. Those people read this chapter with that lens and are challenged by the questions that Rob throws out.
I am in the second camp. I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, but I also cringe at the idea that 21st century Christians know all there is to know about God and that our theology fits into a nice, neat system. Rob Bell challenges this system in this chapter. As I read this chapter I also read it from the lens of some fundamentalists I know. Why would they cringe at the idea that there are other possibilities for people accepting God’s love? Why do they feel like it has to be an equation for salvation and if that equation is questioned, then we are heretical? God’s love is far too big to be put into a box that is just for us, those who are believers. I firmly believe that God can reach out to people in ways that we can’t even explain. Will there be surprises in heaven? I think so and Scripture seems to back up that idea.
Honestly I loved this chapter. It shows a God who is creative and willing to try anything to reach out to his creation with his love. And as I look toward celebrating Easter this weekend, I get excited knowing this gift of selfless love is not just for me but for the whole world.