I just finished reading Rob Bell’s controversial book, “Love Wins“. I came away with mixed emotions, but strangely stirred to consider carefully the suggestions his book asserts about what I “think I know”, rather than what the bible actually says.
As a parent, this book engages me to review my way of raising kids biblically and to apply the portions of the book that I believe have real merit for us and to discard the portions that I believe are a pure opinion. As a pastor I feel strongly that Rob has raised a very real and serious concern about how we as Christian’s present the “gospel” of Jesus Christ to our world.
For a fair and balance review of Rob’s book, I would refer you to a post from Christian Today. I believe theologian Derek Tidball has captured my own observations, considerations and concerns almost verbatim.
For real life faith and family issues, read on….
Parents, Rob Bell’s book raises some key elements about our understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus. He uses in particular the parable of the prodigal son as a powerful metaphor for understanding the viewpoint that God Himself has on both those who fail and repent and those who appear to be faithful and reliable servants. His observation that God see’s both sons as separated by their individual sins is a great parenting truth.
So often one of our children are easily identified as the “black sheep” of our families, always pushing boundaries, always the first to get in trouble and the first to talk back… and in converse there will be one sibling who is extra-ordinarily compliant. It’s easy to pre-determine the actions and reactions of each to our instructions and to pre-judge their actions as “good” and “bad” respectively.
Not so fast.
What about the conditions of the hearts of our children? I mean, are we carefully looking into their hearts before we draw our conclusions about their actions ? If so, we need to step back a bit and reconsider.
God judges from the heart, man from the outward appearance. If we are training our kids to simply model our faith, in time they will learn to simply “pretend” their way through childhood and adolescence. By adulthood, they will have mastered the art of deception and risk the tragedy of living out their lives in public as respectable and self-disciplined fakes. It strikes me that many of our churches are full of such individuals.
If we take the time to actually look a bit under the surface of their behavior, we may find that our compliant kids are actually more at risk for connecting with their faith in a genuine way than our “black sheep” are. The honesty of rebellion is something that we need to actually cherish as we work with them to consider that mom and dad might know what they are talking about, and that the bible could actually be important to their own lives… 🙂
Tomorrow’s blog will consider the issues of this book and its impact on the church from the perspective of a pastor.
Until then, God bless you as you like me… “seek to keep your family in between the lines and on the road of life”!