Here is the accusations.
Among all the bashing and criticism of Rob Bell and the Emergent Church, there are always those who claim that people such as Bell and the "emerging" types as well as books such as "Love Wins", give no reason for one to share the gospel (good news).
The other accusation that continues to come up during all the Rob Bell controversy is that those like Bell are just trying to make the gospel palatable and do whatever they can to resist offending anyone with the ideas of hell, judgement, or condemnation.
I will address the the former first... that there is no reason to share the gospel.
There have been claims that if there is a possibility that God is indeed the savior of everyone (1 Timothy 4:10) then there is no need for missionaries or sharing the gospel with others.
Tell that to people who are starving to death and do not have clean drinking water and are sleeping on the streets. Tell that to the people of Japan, New Orleans, or Haiti. Tell that to those living in poverty and whose countries are infested with the aids virus. Tell that to the abused, the oppressed, the weak, and the least of these who are all experiencing hell as we speak.
There is always a need to give food, drink, to clothe the naked, visit those those in prison, and taking care of the sick. There is a need for missionaries, and a need for People who have experienced the unconditional love, grace, and mercy of God and who want to give it to others.
There is always a need for good news.
Also, I will gladly share with anyone the good news of Jesus Christ. That God loves them just as they are, and that there is nothing they can do to change that. I will gladly tell someone living in hell that they don't have to live that way anymore and that there is hope.
I share my faith now more than I ever have in my life. The gospel honestly excites me and I want others to know the good news of Jesus. It's liberating and the best thing I have ever heard.
Which brings me to my next point.
This whole thing about making the gospel easy for people to swallow, and being careful not to offend anyone. Well how is that turning out for Rob Bell who apparently has offended everyone? Ask someone like Brian McLaren if he enjoys getting all that "hate" mail. Ask Someone like Jay Bakker how much preaching the good news of grace has cost him.
But apparently, people such as these are not offending the right people. They are more likely to offend religious leaders than sinners.
Wait a minute, that sounds familiar... It reminds me of someone... Oh yeh...
Sinners seemed to love Jesus. Religious people seemed to hate him. Why? Because Jesus accepted people who the religious establishment claimed shouldn't be accepted.
Which brings me to another point. When Jesus uses hell language in the bible he is talking to religious people, not "sinners". For the "sinners", he saves language such as, "neither do I condemn you" and "let's share a meal together." Was Jesus making the gospel palatable? Would religious leaders of today even like him?
So it would seem as though those of us like Rob Bell are indeed offending the "right" people, Just not the people the "right" would have us offend. I have heard Rob say more than once that the last few weeks have been the hardest of his life, and I believe him.
As i said above, i love to talk about and share my faith, but I also have never been so afraid to.
I have been called names, labeled, lost friends, and have been asked to leave churches as well as other churches threatening to pull financial support if I didn't step down from certain ministries.
I have had people tell my friends and my youth that they shouldn't be around me and have had churches send letters out warning parents to use discretion in letting their kids come to my house.
The fact that my wife, who desires to be at home with our kids, is working full time right now is ultimately due to how strongly we believe this "good news" of Jesus, and how we have been unwilling to compromise our beliefs.
So say what you want, but DO NOT say that I wouldn't "sacrifice" for the gospel I believe in.
Would it have been easier for me to have held on to the beliefs I once had? To fit within a certain mold in order to be accepted by certain groups of people, and to sit in the pews never questioning what the pastor said?
Absolutely. BUT I CAN'T DO IT.
It definitely hasn't been the broad, easy path everyone makes it out to be and there are tears in my eyes as i write this. Its honestly one of the hardest things I have ever done, and yet I am compelled to do it. I no longer live the way I do or believe certain things for fear of what will happen to me if I don't.
I am not motivated by fear or condemnation, but I am compelled by love, grace, and mercy in which fear has no place.
I am convinced that the good news of Jesus is worth the risk and the cost, and I happen to believe that the good news is indeed better than that.
Grace and Peace,