Dear Rob Bell
It was great being with you a couple of weeks ago – before the entire media stir. If it is not too presumptuous of me, I would like to encourage you with a few thoughts that have guided me through times of critique…
As people voice their opinions, remember you can only control your own words. In the new media world there are no “take backs” and the permanent record stands forever. Our children’s children will know more about us by our Internet foot print than another generation’s “Kodak moments.”
We also live in a very connected world, where those who have wielded power by control and intimidation are watching their empires crumble. An awareness of how big, diverse and beautiful our future really is has severely squelched those who limit others. To call another’s faith into question (you are unchristian or not biblical), just because it does not aligned with one particular dogma or hermeneutic, is to miss the amazing metaphor of the Body of Christ.
I would like to pass along a life learning, it goes like this – “if I am not a little bit embarrassed about what I said yesterday, then I have probably not learned anything today…”
With this in mind, I want to learn more about what it means that “God is Love;” that the greatest commandment is to “Love God and my neighbor as myself;” and that the mark of a Christ-follower is our “Love one for another.”
If I speak in the tongues of popularity or of authority, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of speaking absolute Truth and can understand every secret God has concealed and conquer every doubt, and if I have a faith that can move trending topics on twitter, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I say I am only looking out for those who cannot look out for themselves and stake my reputation on the line that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are absolute Truths, they will cease; where there are persuasive arguments, they will be stilled; where there is no doubt in any theological position I take, it will pass away. For we know in part and we try our best to make sense of our world, ourselves and God, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away the childish thought that I could know as God. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Or as a friend of mine likes to say “Love Wins,”
The italicized words are mine in 1 Cor. 13