I’m reading a book by Rob Bell at the moment: “What we Talk About When we Talk About God.” It is a simple, easy to read book which largely sums up my own journey of faith over the last few years. I would recommend it.
Rob Bell’s central premise is that God loves us and wants us to be all we can be. I know some people think very poorly of Rob Bell, insisting that he is over-simplifying the gospel. Perhaps to some his premise sounds much like that of many self-help gurus.
However I think he is simply stating the essential truths of the gospel: that God loves us.
The scary thing is that this message is so simple it is deeply profound; so profound that the Christian church has added to it over the years so that it is complicated and hedged about by explanatory clauses and stipulations and recommendations.
But the simple truth is this: God loves us.
God loves us if we love him back; and if we don’t
God loves us if we acknowledge his reality; and if we don’t.
God loves us if we identify as Christians; and if we don’t.
God loves us. Period.
He doesn’t love us more if we acknowledge him and love him back, and less if we don’t. He just loves us.
I can hear Christians whispering: “Ah, but we should change in response to this love.” Yes, that’d be good, but if we don’t, God still loves us.
And, you know, what Christians call holiness, what the Bible encourages as holiness, is really just being the truest version of ourselves that we can be. And we do that journey best in partnership with God.
The Bible says, “Be holy for I am holy.” Be the fullest, truest version of yourself, just as God is always the truest, fullest version of himself; always.
So yes, being changed as we continue on the journey to being the truest version of ourselves that is possible is the best endeavour that we can give our lives to.
But if we don’t take that journey, or if we strive for it via other means and paths, God still loves us.
So what about eternity? What about the end of the world? What about heaven and hell and the eternal consequences of the choices we make in this life?
And I’m OK not being sure about this, because I know God loves me, and I know God loves other people, and I know God can work “The End” (or perhaps “The New Beginning”) out in such a way that the world, and those who believe in Jesus, and those who don’t, and God himself, will be OK with the outcome.
Because God loves us.
And love is wanting the very best for the one who is loved.
And God wants the very best for us. Everyone. All the time. Always.