I find there to be an awful lot of judging going on in the world. I expect it in secular circles, but cringe at the proliferation of finger-pointing within the sanctity of the churches. Christianity has become more and more divided, given the numerous elucidations of God’s word. I have borne witness to so much disdain in the hearts of pastors, priests, parishioners, and members alike. Dogma or differing, Canon brings forth a sense of pride like one would exhibit for their favorite sports team.
I read an article this week about the infamous Rob Bell. As most would recall, Rob Bell founded Mars Hill in Michigan. Aside from building an iconic church, Rob Bell became an accomplished author, created the Nooma Series, and in the end was demonized for a homily. In a word, ‘Heretic!’ Rob Bell repudiated the existence of hell and the Christian community was up in arms. The acclaimed pillar of the evangelical community, and heir apparent to Billy Graham, was now an ostracized heretic. The Christian mass media outlets, as well as Christian leaders everywhere, couldn’t help themselves. Rob Bell’s ears were ringing for months and he sought refuge in California with surfboard in hand.
I by no means sympathize or empathize with Rob Bell. In fact, I am in total disagreement with his convenient transformation to a politically correct and, moreover, prosperous Gospel message. However, as appalling as Rob Bell’s change of heart was, the anger and finger pointing displayed by the at large pulpit was equally as distressing. I spoke with a friend of mine this week, after it was announced that Rob Bell was offered his own show on the Oprah Network. My friend was visibly angered by Rob Bell’s show and the message that would be delivered. I countered with a big fat “who cares?”
Why must we become so enraged when we are confronted with a circumstance that is counter-intuitive to our faith? Aren’t we called to love unconditionally and be slow to anger? So what if Johnny is a Baptist and Joey is a Protestant, or Rob Bell denounces hell and supports gay marriage? It is not my job to judge anyone but to simply and passively share the Gospel. I want my love to be so infectious and viral to the world that people from different denominations, different religions, agnostics, atheists, etc., feel the power of the Holy Spirit through my never-ending expression of love.
In the end, it is impossible for someone to experience vicariously the love of the Holy Spirit. It is so important that we put aside our suppositions that limit our ability to convey God’s love. The expression of faith, and faith in and of itself, is something altogether different. The Lord vilified the Pharisees who made dogma more important than LOVE. There is power in the Gospel and if we simply love unconditionally and leave the judging to God, our hearts will be filled beyond content! He without sin cast the first stone! Pull the plank out of your own eye before worrying about the splinter in Rob Bell’s.
Peter Goldsberry has been and continues to be a spiritual journey. Raised Roman Catholic in New Jersey, Peter was nicknamed “Padre” and was thought destined for the priesthood due to his enthusiasm and eagerness to be involved in all matters of faith. Blessed to be a better than average football player, he also earned high academic and national honors. Peter’s life changed when his father was diagnosed with cancer. He’s unable to forget the first night back at college after burying his father. He couldn’t sleep and suddenly was lead to the college book store to purchase the last paperback Bible on the shelf. Following his graduation from college, Peter married his high school sweetheart Amy and started working with a blue chip company in Campbell Soup. Things were going great for the family but Peter felt that his faith had taken a back seat. Amy and he searched for a church and found a great Presbyterian one in Toms River that fueled their faith. Later, Peter accepted a job to serve as an executive with the NBA for the Hornets in New Orleans. While with the Hornets, he had the opportunity to work with Owner George Shinn building a Faith and Family Night where 10,000 Psalm books were handed out. Currently, Peter has returned to his roots in New Jersey and works there. Peter, Amy, and their two children are happy to be back in familiar surroundings. Follow him on Twitter at @Pgold44.