I have struggled massively with this post. Everything from the content to the title has got me questioning. In continuing this series on the book of Ephesians, I came across the particularly difficult chapter four. I say it’s difficult for two reasons. One, I have seen some of both the ugliest face of Christendom in response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins as well as the the more beautiful in friends and family. Two, I am in the process of understanding the depths of the human condition and all the futility under the sun.
Rob Bell’s latest book, I feel, could be the best worst thing to happen to Christianity in recent memory. However, many people have used it to lambaste him and his followers. I feel there has been a significant rift formed from this one book. Honestly, I don’t understand why. I am not one to talk here. Or maybe I am.
I’m sure everyone has heard by now of Westboro Baptist Church protesting this, that and the other thing. They carry hateful signs at these protests and say hurtful things that truly tarnish the already less than sterling image of Christianity.
What do we do? In true Christian fashion, we hate them back. We fume and we huff and we puff and excommunicate them from our denomination of Christianity.
We are no better than them.
We become what we hate and play right into a scheme only the devil could concoct. Rather than remedy the situation, we add fuel to the fire and further the negative thoughts people have about us as Christians.
News flash: we are the body of Christ. We are the living, breathing, walking, talking flesh and blood of Jesus. I may be crazy, but I read Ephesians 4:1–16 to read “as the body, you are to be united in love”. Last time I checked, the definition of love never mentioned the words hate or division.
Have we become the Corinthians?
Paul then expounds how the church is to go about living in love and unity. I think the first part of his explanation is basically saying, “Stop trying to understand grace, because God’s love is far beyond our comprehension.” I admit that by my reasoning, someone attacks my beliefs I attack them back. This is not love.
We are called to put away all falsehood. If we want to criticize and cut down Rob Bell for taking a risk, read his book for yourself. Go and get a clue what you’re talking about rather than being lazy and relying on second-hand news. However, I don’t recommend cutting down in any form.
We’re called to be angry, get passionate but do not get carried away. Yes, you should get angry that people are protesting gay soldiers’ funerals, but don’t hate the people doing so. Hate the bastardized version of “Christianity” that ignorantly promotes them to do so. Yes, in case you missed it, I said get angry.
Build one another up, don’t tear down. Our speech should evidence the presence of the Holy Spirit intimately in our lives. I’m not advocating speaking only compliments, because they would soon feel empty to their recipients. I am, however, saying that love in speech works to push the speaker and listener forward whether in the form of simple truth, spiritual exhortation or challenge or emotional condolence.
Finally, forgive in the way that we have been forgiven thousands upon thousands of times (or maybe that’s just me). Have we already forgotten the vessel of our salvation? Have we forgotten the only hope we have of the deliverance of grace? On my hands and knees, I pray that is not true. Let it at least not be true of you, friend.
Though I am by no means a model citizen for anything I have written about, you had better believe I with every bit of my soul desire for unity in the church through a righteous and sanctified body of believers. However, this will not come about by human effort alone, because we are not capable of heart change. In the end, it is all about love, God’s love, and love wins.