Tuesday, December 06, 2005

When the pastor doesn't know what to say...

I can't say I'm a big fan of all Rob Bell does, but I do frequently find him interesting and challenging. The following article is interesting and worth the read (IMHO), it's good stuff.


The Storage Room Meltdown
It was time to preach, but I had nothing to say.
by Rob Bell

I could feel my car keys in my pocket, and all I could think about was how far away I could be by 11 a.m. How much gas was in the tank? How fast could I drive? Sitting on a chair in a storage room, I could hear the worship space filling up with people, and all I wanted to do was leave. What do you do when you're pastor of a church, it's Sunday morning, people are finding their seats, you're scheduled to preach, and you realize you have nothing to say? How did it come to this? It started out so great … One minute you have these ideas about how it could be, and the next minute you're leading this exploding church/event/monster. My wife and I and several others started this church called Mars Hill in February 1999 with dreams of a revolutionary new kind of community. I was 28. People who are starting churches, or want to someday, often ask me when I knew it was time to do it. And I actually have a coherent answer: I knew it was time when I no longer cared if it was "successful." I'm serious. I had this moment in October 1998 when I realized that if 13 people joined us, and that's all it ever was, that would be okay. This thing inside of me was so strong that I had to act on it. I felt if I didn't, I would be violating something … or somebody. Better to try and fail … the worst thing would be to live wondering, What if? The dream actually began years before when Kristen and I were living in Los Angeles. We visited a church called Christian Assembly, and what I saw changed everything for me. This community was exploding with creativity and life—it was like people woke up on Sunday morning and asked themselves, "What would I like to do today more than anything else? How about going to a church service?" This concept was so fresh—people who gathered because they wanted to. There wasn't a trace of empty ritual or obligation anywhere in the place. It didn't matter how far away I had to park. The bond I had with the other people in the room. Not "I have to" but "I get to." Not obligation but celebration. Not duty but desire. For the rest of the article go HERE.

As an extra teaser, further down in the article he writes the following:

There are many dimensions to living in harmony with God. In one sense, salvation is a legal transaction. Humans are guilty because of our sin, and God is the judge who has to deal with our sin because he is holy and any act of sin goes against his core nature. He has to deal with it. Enter Jesus, who dies on the cross in our place. Jesus gets what we deserve; we get what Jesus deserved. For Jesus, however, salvation is far more. It includes this understanding, but it is far more comprehensive—it is a way of life. To be saved or redeemed is to enter into a totally new way of living in harmony with God. The rabbis called harmony with God olam haba, which translates "life in the world to come." Salvation is living more and more in harmony with God, a process that will go on forever. When we understand salvation from a legal-transaction perspective, then the point of the cross becomes what it has done for us. There is the once-and-for-all work of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and saying, "It is finished." Nothing more to be offered and nothing more to be sacrificed. We claim this truth as Christians. All has been forgiven. But let's also use a slightly different phrase: the work of the cross in us. The ongoing work of the cross in our hearts and minds and souls and lives. The ongoing need to return to the cross to be reminded of our brokenness and dependence on God. There is the healing we need from the cross every single day.


Frank Martens said...

"Jesus gets what we deserve; we get what Jesus deserved."

I'm not so sure that's an accurate statement... Only because when Adam bit the apple in disobedience we deserved immediate death and eternity in hell. Christ isn't spending eternity in hell, and not to mention, but who are we to say what Christ deserved?

Frank Martens said...

And personally (on a side note :)... I get quite annoyed at Rob Bell, only because I don't think he believes in the inner working of the Holy Spirit. I've seen/read enough of his stuff to wounder.

mrclm said...

Thanks for visiting Frank. As I mentioned, Bell isn't one of my favorites, but he makes me think. He also uses some very non-traditional presentation methods that I think can be transported into other ministries. His use of story is often very good. I haven't picked up enough of his work (only listened to a handful of his sermons and read a couple of articles) to have picked up on something as specific as you question. But there does seem to be something that doesn't fully connect with me as being right from time to time. I'm not attuned enought to articulate what that is though, it's just this little voice. Nontheless, he is a great communicator, and his chuch is doing a lot of good things.

G. P. Clarke Jr. said...

I've never heard of Bell. I have no idea what his beliefs are. All that to say I have no opinion of him or his ministry.

My comment has more to do with replying to the first comment.

Christ Is ETERNAL. We are bound by time and cannot properly comprehend what it is to be eternal. But, Christ is eternal. As such He is more than capable of satisfying the justice of God by paying the ETERNAL debt for all who will trust in Him.

As a point of reference, notice how these verses refer to the act of salvation taking place outside of time. Before time began, in the realm of eternity before there was a world, before there was GEN 1:1.

Ephesians 1:4
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Revelation 13:8
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Romans 1:20
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Hebrews 9:12
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 9:14
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?