“Love Wins” Chapter 1 “What About The Flat Tire”
Rob Bell begins the book by talking about an art show that he had at his church. Included in one of the works was a quote from Gandhi. Bell then states that someone had attached a note to the work stating that this woman needed to get a reality check and that Gandhi was in hell. Bell then asks the question if we actually can assume that Gandhi is in hell? Bell does have a point here, we can’t all be inside Gandhi’s head to know what kind of faith decisions he made near the end of his life. One thing a person needs to know about God is that he loves all of his creation no matter what we do. BUT, God is also holy, that means that he cannot tolerate or be around our sin. Therefore an innocent person had to die for the sins of the entire world, past, present and future, Jesus died and was resurrected so that everyone could have a chance to turn from their sins. Jesus died and for the sins of Gandhi and Hitler alike (Crazy isn’t it?). In God’s eyes sin is sin and it all had to be paid for through Jesus Christ. If either Gandhi, Hitler, or anyone were to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour would be able to have eternal life with Him after their death. John 3:16 backs this up “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that WHOEVER believes in HIM shall NOT perish, but have eternal life!”
Getting back to Bell now, sorry I got sidetracked in my own analysis. (that will happen from time to time). Bell eventually gets off the topic of Gandhi and he moves on to the fact that there are billions of people that have lived on earth and are still living on earth. Bell wonders that if God is so loving, why would he send millions of people to hell and let only a select few go to heaven to be with Him? Bell is right in saying that God is loving. God loves all of his creation. However, Bell seems to be forgetting other attributes of God in his argument here. God is loving, but God is also holy and just. God is loving in the fact that he sent his only son to die for the sins of the world so that anyone who excepts Jesus Christ as their saviour can inherit the reward of eternal life. However, those who don’t accept Jesus Christ as their saviour are unfortunately destined for hell. (Hell is not fun). God does not want anyone to go to hell, but he can’t just let people into heaven without having them know him through his son. That’s why there has to be action on the sinner’s part to acknowledge that what he is doing is wrong and he needs Jesus Christ to save him. For those of us who have been saved, it puts extra pressure on us to go out and tell others about Jesus and what he has done for them so that they might come to a personal relationship with Him and be saved from their sinful nature themselves. We don’t know how many lives we could affect by just telling the good news to one person. Bell then wonders what happens if those of us who have been saved don’t do our part and tell other people? Well, Rob, I can tell you the answer is not one you’re looking for. By not telling people the good news we could be preventing someone God wants to reach by not speaking out. By our silence, someone else could needlessly be going to hell. So we must do our part and tell people the good news.
The next thing Bell questions is the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order for a person to be eligible for eternal life. As far as Bell is concerned, the phrase “Personal Relationship” does not come up anywhere in the Bible. However, he is missing out on a huge point here. Sure the words aren’t there, but Jesus did have 12 disciples while he wandered around preaching the message of salvation to people. He and his disciples walked together, talked together, ate together, laughed together, sang together and cried together. In that way those 12 guys became Jesus’ closest of friends on earth. Through Jesus’ interaction with his disciples he demonstrated aspects of the sort of relationship God wants to have with his creation, including every human being who accepts Him.
Bell then asks another question, If God is offering a free gift of salvation to everyone which we can do nothing to earn on our own why do we have to accept it? Isn’t accepting salvation a verb? My answer is this: First of all, why would you not want that! Jesus endured the pain of the cross (something WE should have had to do, but DON’T have to now) to make a way for us to get back on even terms with God. Jesus did all the hard work of dying for our sins and all we have to do is accept that he did it. Does it seem like such a hard thing to accept that Jesus died and rose again for your sins and for the sins of everyone else when you know that 99% of the work has already been done for you? All the same, it is the most important decision a person can make in their lifetime. Bell asks, is it what you say that saves you? I would say that it’s not so much what you say as what you actually believe in your heart. What you say is important, don’t get me wrong, but people can say anything they want, if you can back it up it’s all the better.
Well that’s it for the first part of the “Love Wins” Series. Stay tuned for part two where I will attempt to tackle chapter 2 of this book. As always, comments are welcome.