Thursday, January 05, 2012

Belief--from Rob Bell's last sermon at Mars Hill

i write this to you because of how many of you have been
challenged about your participation in the life of this
church, often with the accusation: but what do they believe
over there at mars hill?

as if belief, getting the words right, is the highest form of
faith. Jesus came to give us life. a living, breathing, throbbing,
pulsating blow your hair back tingle your spine roll the
windows down and drive fast experience of God right
here, right now.

word taking on flesh and blood.

and so you've found yourself defending and explaining
and trying to find the words for your experience that is
fundamentally about a reality that is beyond and more than

so when you find yourselves tied up in knots, having
long discussions about who believes what, a bit like
dogs doing that sniff circle when they meet on the sidewalk,
do this:

take out a cup
and some bread
and put it in the middle of the table,
and say a prayer and examine yourselves

and then make sure everybody's rent is paid and there's
food in their fridge and clothes on their backs

and then invite everybody to say
'yes' to the resurrected Christ with whatever 'yes' they
can muster in the moment and then you take that bread
and you dip it in that cup in the ancient/future hope and
trust that there is a new creation bursting forth right here
right now and

then together taste that new life and liberation and
forgiveness and as you look those people in the eyes gathered around that table from all walks of life and you see the new
humanity, sinners saved by grace, beggars who have
found bread showing the others beggars where they found it
remind yourselves that

remember, the movement is word to flesh.
beware of those who will take the flesh and want to turn it
back into words

I recently had a conversation with a pastor who would not do business with my company because we do business with another pastor, whose theology and methods he does not approve.

I deal with people all over the landscape of the Church. I have conversations with extreme fundamentalists and liberals; people who use only the King James Bible, and others who write their own translations; people in churches of thousands, people in churches of ten.

I work with Baptists, Methodists, non-denominationalists, Episcopals, Catholics, Bereans, Mennonites, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Anglicans, Korean churches, Chinese churches, African-American churches, Latino churches, Emerging Churches, Reformed churches, traditional churches, contemporary churches...and dozens of others.

I see an incredible diversity in what churches put on their "statement of beliefs" pages, and think how amazing it is that all these people are reading the same bible and come up with such different interpretations, perspectives, doctrines and emphases.

I grow weary of the debates among writers and speakers and theologians, the accusations of heresy, the warnings to avoid certain writers and churches and theologies.

So I love Rob's answer to the question of belief. It's about the bread, and the cup, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It's about loving God and loving people.

I am convicted that I do a poor job of this. I need to spend less time reading and thinking and debating, and more time just loving God and loving people.

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