Rob Bell on Suffering

Here’s a neat video clip of Rob Bell, speaking at something called Seeds of Compassion InterSpiritual Day, in which different leaders from different religious backgrounds came together to discuss important issues.

I can’t actually embed the video here on this page, so you’ll have to go over to the original poster’s blog and check it out there:

“Rob Bell on Suffering” – by Mike L.

Here’s a quote from the end of it, to spark your interest, but I would really recommending watching the whole thing; it’s only a couple minutes long. Rob is speaking about revenge and forgiveness when he says this:

…when people choose not to hand it back, but to bear it, it will always lead to suffering. And you will unavoidibly become a better person on the other side. …that is what changes the world when somebody chooses not to hand it back.

Everything Is Spiritual… – pt 2

Update 1/30/08: I just received the “Everything is Spiritual” DVD as a gift, and I’m looking forward to finally knowing what this message is all about, rather than continually speculating on what it is based on what I’ve heard.  I’ll most likely post my thoughts on it once I get around to watching it.


This one’s a continuation of a topic I brought up in an earlier post from back in May, “Everything is Spiritual“.

This is a short clip from a DVD that Rob Bell is putting out based on a talk he gave called “Everything is Spiritual”. Some really good stuff here that’s worth thinking about; here’s my favorite quote from the video:

“…Every act is a spiritual act, it’s whether or not you’re aware of the implications of what you’re doing…” -Rob Bell

What do you think about that statement? What would it look like in your day-to-day life if you viewed everything that you did as important, with Spiritual implications? Even mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathroom, or changing a diaper…

of Man Crushes and Rob Bell…

Hey Matt, I found someone else who’s Man Crush on Rob Bell at least rivals mine, if not surpasses it… check it out here.

But in all seriousness, Bob makes some great points in this post. He’s comparing Rob Bell’s church, Mars Hill, with some other large churches. And he interestingly points out that while the leaders at a lot of these large churches do, to some extent, have “celebrity status” in that they are well-known, Rob Bell clearly takes steps to diminish his celebrity in an effort to drive people to their own local church. Here’s one of the things Bob (not Rob) said:

But have you ever listened to his (Mars Hill’s) podcast?

It kind of sucks…

He explained this once, in one of those sucky podcasts- they put ZERO effort into production value. No musical lead-in or fade out. No silky-tongued announcer tickling your ears. The thing is recorded at about 20kb and often sounds like an AM radio in a lightening storm…
And why?

Because Rob doesn’t want you to think that by listening to him preach to his community, you’ve somehow accomplished something and can take a pass on participating in or learning from your own.

He knows he’s a great speaker. But he also knows he’s not your pastor. And he’s not going to dress it up and make it fancy or even advertise it (for a couple years, it was pretty hard to even find MHBC messages. It came as a surprise to most people that they were podcasting) because he’s simply not interested in being the number one podcast on iTunes (ahem…) and in tempting you to think that you might not have anything to learn from those in your own church community who have been called to teach (even if they’re not quite as cool as Rob).

And because he explicitly doesn’t want you to think that he’s your teacher or your pastor, he embodies that by making it so that if you really want to listen to him teach, you kind of have to work at it.

I love that.

It’s humble in the best sense of knowing that yes, he’s a captivating speaker, but no, he’s not interested in taking away anything at all from you learning from your community. That tells me at a base level whose Kingdom Rob is really interested in building.

This is a GREAT articulation of something that I’ve always inherently felt, but haven’t necessarily been able to describe:

…that while Rob Bell’s church is technically a “mega-church” (based on the number of people attending), it really is SO MUCH different, in a good way, than any other large church I know of. They seem to try very hard to stick to the bare essentials and to strip away the unimportant things that inevitably creep in as churches get larger and larger.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Are megachurches bad? No. But as churches grow, the temptation for leaders to become celebrities clearly grows, and it’s something that should be actively combated as any church grows…

Jesus taught that the first are actually last, the last are actually first, and that leaders should be washing everyone else’s feet… Let’s do our best to not lose sight of that as the inevitable reality of power and influence creeps in.

What Lessons Can Progressives Learn from Evangelicals?

Pretty neat article, it’s long, but I think it’s worth the read.

I typically hear comments about the Postmodern/Emerging/etc camp from conservative evangelical types, so this article is cool in that it’s coming from the progressive/left-leaning side.


love wins


UPDATE #3 – (2/26/2011)

The internet is buzzing today about Rob Bell’s new book, called Love Wins.  Some prominent folks in the Reformed/Calvinist camp watched the promo video he put out, and have decided that it clearly means that Rob Bell is a universalist.  Well… why don’t we all just wait and read the book first. 🙂  But in the meantime, since this post is getting so many hits today, I figured I’d at least point people towards the video in question:

And now, back to my original post.  Thanks for stopping by!  And let’s remember that as followers of Jesus, if we don’t have LOVE, then we don’t have anything.


Again, let me preface this post by saying that I may be sounding like a broken record again, but I think it’s with good reason because Rob Bell is the only person saying the things that NEED TO BE SAID AND HEARD. At least, the only person that can be heard by a large audience anyways, since I have no way of hearing about this stuff from “Joe Schmoe” the Senior Pastor at “Grace Bible Fellowship Community Chapel” even though he may be TOTALLY spot on with this stuff… OK, that’s enough of a preface. I’ll get on with it now:


Has anyone seen this on a bumper sticker or t-shirt before?  I haven’t, but I’ve heard about it. And this is the message that, as best I can tell, started it. Rob Bell spoke about the Cross and Jesus and what it means to the world as a whole, beyond the purely personal answer of “getting my butt out of hell” that we’ve been so fond of making the top priority.

You really should give this a listen if you’ve got a few free minutes… Maybe throw it on your mp3 player or burn it to CD and listen to it while you drive somewhere (that’s usually what I do). But the main point is this:

The cross is God’s way of saying, “Love Wins.”

I think his point is that the way that the entire universe works RADICALLY CHANGED through Jesus’s life and death on a Roman cross. He lived a life, filled with all the same opportunities for evil and injustice that we experienced, and yet NOT ONCE did he sin by responding in any way other than with love, forgiveness, etc. And then to top it off, he was defeated and killed by the “powers-that-be” of the day (Rome) and yet somehow turned that loss into a win for the Kingdom of God by not staying dead… 🙂

So how did all that RADICALLY CHANGE the universe? By making it so that the people that appear to be the winners, are actually losing… and the people that appear to be losing, are actually winning… And that in all situations, with all people, and in all ways, LOVE WINS. Revenge will no longer gain you any ground in this world (even though on the surface it may appear to) and instead, we should Love (even though on the surface it seems foolish).

I feel like all of this stuff, for the most part, isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) news to anyone who calls themself a Christian or a follower of Jesus, but if we stop for a second and ask ourselves “Do I respond with Love in every situation and circumstance that comes up during my day?”…

On most days, can we honestly say that we even TRIED to do this? I know that until recently, it didn’t cross my mind at all…

What would it look like if we even just made an ATTEMPT to do this everyday… How many people around you would be FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED if you started doing this… And thus, how many systems and institutions that we’re all a part of would start to change if the people in them started to change… How much of what Heaven is about would start to happen right here, right now…

I know that ultimately this life will always be filled with problems and evil because Sin exists in the world, but doesn’t this start to make you think that maybe… just maybe… this is what Jesus was talking about when he taught His disciples how to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


UPDATE #1  ( 8/9/08 ): I get so many hits on this post from people searching for “love wins bumper sticker”, so I decided that I would point people to a site that I found that actually sells the stickers, in case anyone is interested in getting one. (I’m not affiliated or connected with this site at all, FYI)


UPDATE #2  ( 8/8/09 ): Mars Hill itself is apparently now selling the “Love Wins” stickers, for only a buck a piece!  You can order them here. Thanks to commenter grandrapidion for providing the link!

Why is this the first time a church is doing something like this?

Ok, some of you might be starting to feel like I’m some sort of broken record… and you know what, maybe I am. But this is something about which I’m willing to be that broken record…

Rob Bell’s church, Mars Hill Bible Church, just made a (radical?) statement about what their mission as a church community is. It’s something that the leaders there have been working on for a while, but apparently in the last few weeks it’s come to fruition and they have presented it as the main Mission of their church, which will define who they are and what they’re about and where they’re going in the immediate future.


Here are the main 3 points, but you should check out the link above for more details:

Missional areas of focus

  • Every kid in West Michigan should have food and shelter.
    more info
  • The poorest of Grand Rapids who are willing and able should
    be given a chance to earn a living.
    more info
  • The poorest people in the world should be given a chance
    to help themselves.
    more info

And they’re not just talking about this stuff, saying things like “man, wouldn’t it be great if people around us weren’t homeless anymore”…

They actually have a plan to DO IT.

This morning, I was listening to the podcast from the service that they first announced this at (download it here) and the lead pastor, Don Golden, was recounting a trip to Africa that he had made a few years ago. He was meeting with a large group of African pastors in an area that was heavily hit by famine, and they were talking about what the churches and pastors could do in the midst of such great suffering and need.

The (obvious) problem is that in a famine, people need food. Thus, if a church wants to help the people in need, then they need to get food to give to people. But what do you do if there is no food to give?

Don said that his understanding of church was forever changed by what one African pastor shared there. When asked the question, “What is it like, to be surrounded by overwhelming brokenness and need and yet having nothing to offer”, the African pastor said:

When you are no longer able to help the needy, are you still a church?

So, what Mars Hill has done, and what I am doing to all of you who stop by, is turning this question around on us and asking:

If we (American Christians and the American church as a whole) are not helping the needy, are we still The Church?

Chew on that for a while…

can you really say this is wrong?

To all the people that yell and scream about Rob Bell and other’s like him… I want to ask you a question. Can you tell me how this is Biblically wrong?

Can you imagine what would happen if a group of people with untold resources, passion and energy started asking the question, “How do we hear the cry of the oppressed?”. What if they were actually willing to wade into the cultural, economic, racial, global and personal issues involved without fear, with the confidence that no matter how painful, messy and volatile it got, Jesus would guide them the whole way? You’d have some church on your hands. — Rob Bell

And this statement about what his church believes…

Mars Hill is devoted to joining the God of the oppressed in the restoration of all creation.

Isn’t there more that Christians can AGREE ON than there is that we can disagree on? Isn’t it more important that we’re out there DOING and BEING what Jesus told us, rather than whether or not we can agree on every single theological issue?

I’m starting to think that if we just get out of our church buildings, and start doing and saying the things that Jesus did while he was here, then one of two things will happen:

1) The theological disagreements will iron themselves out, or…

2) We won’t care so much about the disagreements anymore, because they PALE in comparison to the amazing things that we are seeing and doing by getting out there and loving people like Jesus did.