Speaking of jealousy... let’s call it the Rob Bell phenomenon. I use Rob because a) he’s been incredibly influential to me and b) he’s such a great illustration of how threatened we become with change.
1. Rob Bell is the single biggest influence of my faith. Poets, Prophets, and Preachers in 2009 changed my life. I had been a pastor for a year at that time and I came back from the event and realizing I had converted to something. I was suddenly overwhelmed at the beauty of trees, overwhelmed that there was good in this world and overwhelmed that my pessimism was fading and becoming replaced by something good and optimistic. The good news was actually getting good and Rob Bell was a conduit of that good news.
2. People hate Rob Bell. Many use those exact words. People picket. Friends of mine jab at “Christian Celebrity”. Other friends constantly make remarks about where Rob is going or “nervousness”.
3. C.S. Lewis wrote Hatred has its pleasures it is therefore often the compensation by which a jealous man reimburses himself for the miseries of fear.
People hate/dislike Rob Bell because they are jealous. And afraid. Afraid he might be more popular than them, afraid he might be right, afraid he might sway people away from their own belief which might mean that his belief is more appealing? I don’t know. When you hate, you fear. Whenever you hate or meet someone who hates, ask yourself - or him or her - what you are afraid of.
4. I’m not saying Rob Bell is Jesus. I am saying the way that people respond to him is exactly how people responded to Jesus. Jealousy over the crowds. Anger at the way he uses the scriptures. And fear how he blows up the religious system. Right. Those same Pharisees still hate people who blow up the system and yet, if the system doesn’t evolve, it dies.
Ironic. The same system the Pharisees are trying to save will definitely die if they succeed in saving it. (Probably why Jesus was always trying to warn them.)
5. Rob Bell steals from everyone. When you start reading the books that he reads, you realize he’s just stealing stuff from everyone else. Which is awesome. He’s not coming up with this stuff alone and you can steal from them too. And there’s something that has been moving in this faith for a long time… that’s always comforting. This faith has always had narrow roads of growth and life.
6. Rob Bell is not my friend. I really wanted him to be and really tried to make him my friend. He’s not. That’s cool. I’m finally okay with it. My wife told him how much he has meant to us. I told him the same. That’s all that matters.
7. Rob Bell just speaks my language. We all have a language we speak and I’m not saying Rob Bell speaks the best or correct language but he does he speak mine. If Rob Bell isn’t the person that speaks your language, please find people that do.
At the end of the day this has nothing to do with Rob Bell. This has to do with people who best help you to see who you are and what you are capable of.