They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32
After realizing they had been speaking to the resurrected Jesus, two disciples say they felt like their hearts were burning within them.
The first time I heard Rob Bell speak in person, I felt the same way.
In September of 2003, over eight years ago now, I first heard Rob Bell speak at a small youth pastors’ conference in the San Bernardino Mountains. The group was significantly smaller than those to which Bell speaks now, yet his fervor and passion for Jesus were abundantly clear.
Bell opened up the scriptures and the world of Jesus in ways that I hadn’t ever thought of. His ability to unlock deeper meanings through the context of Jesus’ day was truly remarkable. I told those I was with that I felt like a fire was burning within my heart.
Unfortunately, there was also an actual fire burning at that time. Wild brush fires cut the weekend short and we were forced to evacuate the camp and our time with Rob. That weekend was the beginning of Rob speaking truth into my life through his sermons, Nooma videos and books.
Now Rob Bell is leaving Mars Hill Bible Church, the church he founded 12 years ago in Grandville, MI. This has been a tumultuous year for Bell, with the release of Love Wins and the subsequent backlash. And while some of his latest teaching and writings may give me pause, that doesn’t mean I have to abandon everything else I’ve gleaned from him over the years.
The Nooma video Dust transformed what it meant for me to follow Jesus.
Velvet Elvis changed the way I think about my faith, and how it needs to be more like a trampoline than a brick wall.
The sermon series Revolutionary Christmas opened my eyes to the deeper meanings of the Magnificat and how to seek justice at Christmas.
I appreciate the voice Rob Bell has been to the church over the past decade and I’m very grateful for the impact he has had on my life.
I don’t know where he’s going or what endeavors he’s pursuing (he may explain some of that in his sermon on Sunday).
But I can say, “Farewell, Rob. Thanks for how you’ve influenced my life and helped push me nearer to Jesus.”