I’m not hip. (Exhibit A: Using Evie lyrics as a post title.) I’ve never read, heard, or watched Rob Bell preach/speak/perform beat poetry/whatever it is he does. But I am culturally aware enough to have noticed all the recent bickering about who killed who . . . no, wait, that’s Monty Python. I mean, all the recent bickering about Rob Bell’s latest book trailer, which I also have not watched. And I find myself once again back in “the bride is shooting herself in the foot” territory.
Here’s a little crash course in human nature. Let’s call it Opinions 101:
1. Everyone has opinions.
2. Everyone believes his opinions are right, otherwise he wouldn’t hold them.
3. People feel threatened when someone disagrees with their opinions.
1 Corinthians 3 addresses the topic of divisions in the church. Paul calls the Corinthians babies — people who can’t handle solid food, because they’re fleshly and filled with jealousy and strife. Here’s the 2011 version of verses 4-9:
For when one says, “I follow Rob Bell,” and another, “I follow John Piper,” are you not being merely human? What then is Rob Bell? What is John Piper? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. John Piper planted, Rob Bell watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one (!), and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
Paul goes on to warn each builder to take care how he builds, because there’s only one foundation, he says, and that’s Jesus Christ.
And I get this mental image. A huge expanse of Rock — huge enough to form an unshakable foundation for every believer to build upon, and it’s covered with millions of redeemed and equipped builders. But for some reason they aren’t building God’s house. They’ve formed little camps, and they’re building their own kingdoms. Sometimes one guy looks at the wall going up next door, and he says, “Hey! They’re using red bricks. I don’t like red bricks. Reminds me of the whole harlot dressed in scarlet thing.” His buddy says, “You just made a rhyme!” And the first guy says, “Did you hear what I said?!” And the buddy says, “Oh, right. Right. Let’s go tear down their wall.” So they throw stones and insults at the wall next door, and maybe they even go over and poke those guys in the eye, which hurts pretty bad, provoking an equally severe tantrum in response.
Multiply this scenario by eleventy-jillion, and you have a decent picture of the “God’s Building” construction site. Meanwhile, the foundation stands firm, patiently waiting for the whole lot of them to remember who and Whose they are.
To continue our 2011 paraphrase, “So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether John Piper or Rob Bell or all the other people mentioned in Katdish’s excellent post or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”
We have a choice. We can spend our lives ringing those Bells (i.e., defending Apollos) or ringing those Bell’s necks (i.e., defending Paul). Or we can be like the noble Berean believers, who received the word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. We can quibble with our neighbor over the color of his bricks, or we can build with joyful gratitude on the One Foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones.
Yes, there are essential elements to our faith. Yes, we should defend them. But we should also be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Perhaps discernment is granted first and foremost for the purpose of intercession? We’re all on a journey — none of us yet arrived. Not even the celebrity builders. God has one bride, and He’s promised to make her spotless. He’s building one house, and He’s promised to adorn it with beauty. The Foundation isn’t going anywhere. All we who’ve been rescued from the terror of quick sand and planted on the Rock by grace can live in grateful community or jealous strife. We can keep sucking our baby bottles with a scowl, or meet around Christ’s table (there’s only one) and learn to digest His solid food.
We really do have a choice. Or maybe that’s just my opinion.