Seeing Rob Bell in Nashville: A Guest Post by Jeff Goins

Today’s guest post is from my friend Jeff Goins. He lives in Nashville and recently had the chance to hear Rob Bell speak. He did not rush the stage to hug him or give him a purple nurple. Here’s his guest post.

I saw Christian pastor Rob Bell speak at Belmont University on his controversial book Love Wins last night. I’m sorry to say it, but I was really disappointed with how he presented himself.

Because he was wearing contacts.

What’s the deal, Rob?

You’re, like, known for your iconic, unisex, plastic-rimmed glasses. And then you go and stiff us? What do you stand for these days?!

In all seriousness, the truth is that Rob shared a challenging message about a God of ridiculous love and message of scandalous grace that I think we can all benefit from. Even if you’re not a Christian, you have to admit that this idea is compelling: If there is a God and he is on your side, that’s empowering.

Rob spent the evening with us, sharing stories of redemption and restoration, answering questions (and asking some), and challenging us to rethink our view of God. I found myself inspired to follow Jesus all over again. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

That said, I don’t know where Rob stands on the whole “hell” thing. And I believe that was his intention.

There’s something to learn from how Rob has weathered the storms of criticism that this new book has caused (to the extent that it was even a trending topic on Twitter one weekend). He called the past two weeks some of the hardest in his life.

Here are a few quotes from Rob:

  • “We spend our lives striving to get that which we had all along.”
  • “When am I gonna see my enemies extra crispy?!” (This was a joke.)
  • “God is on your side.”
  • “This world is good, because God invented wine.” (This was sort of a joke.)
  • “You can resist God now, and you can resist him later.”

But here is the quote that really struck me: “For it to stick you have to wrestle [with it].” He was talking about parables and how Jesus taught — not by mandating dogma, but by proposing questions and usually refusing to answer those he was asked.

I found this to be extremely compelling — especially as a communicator. What can we learn from this method of teaching? Of asking questions and not giving in to the taunts of our opponents?

Say what you want about Rob. I don’t have a clear answer on where he stands on eternity, and I’m not even sure that he knows for sure. I believe that he doesn’t want you to know.

He wants to ask questions that lead you to the truth. And that sort of sounds like another famous teacher who had his fair share of critics.

Brings two questions to mind, feel free to answer either or both:

1. Do you agree with the idea that some things are better said by leaving them left unsaid?

2. Who’s the one person you’d love to hear speak in person that you haven’t seen yet?

For more of Jeff, go check out his excellent blog: Goins, Writer