from an interview with the Boston Globe:
Boston Globe: I’m struck by the fact that I don’t hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you.
Rob Bell: I think we have enough religious people who are going around trying to convert people. My guard is up when somebody is trying to convert me to their thing. Are you talking to me because you actually are interested in this subject, because you care about me as a human, or am I one more possible conversion that will make you feel good about your religiosity? I don’t have any embarrassment about my religion, and it’s not that I’m too cool, but I would hope that the Jesus message would come through, hopefully through a full humanity.
Christianity can't fit into a cookie cutter mold. yet we try and try to make it fit, perhaps because it makes us feel successful. but perhaps its not about success. perhaps its truly about discipleship and truly following Jesus.
there is a ministry at the edge of town that has a sign out front that reads '652 Salvation's' or something like that. everytime i see it i am reminded of McDonalds and how it would say 'over 1 billion served'. I don't like to think of 'salvation' as a fast food product that is bought and sold.
i know that God can and will reach people and save people through various methods - but i would feel a little uncomfortable using the 'used car salesman' approach to advancing God's kingdom.
i think i would rather spread the Good news of Jesus through relationships and conversations and actions that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Loving God first and Living all people next. Treating people with respect while showing them an example of the hope that is within me.
Salvation is not a commodity - and getting people 'saved' is not something i do so that i can get another notch on my belt.
i guess i look at it this way: if a man were drowning in a lake - and he cried out to be saved, the lifeguard would throw him a life preserver and thus salvation would be at hand.
but once out of the water - drowning man must then learn to swim before jumping back in the lake. the learning to swim is discipleship. learning the art of being like Jesus. the lifeguard - presumably would show drowning man the Way to life. (John 10:10)
if said life guard 'saves' drowning man but then moves on, how genuine was the saving? he saved only because it was his job - not because it was his passion for the drowning man to have life.
as a follower of Jesus - i want people to understand the saving grace of Jesus. but i want them to understand that and to SEE that through my love and my actions.
it is my prayer that there would be a genuine, consistency within me and that God would give me the boldness to proclaim the gospel to one and all - through word and deed. i hope that is your prayer, too.