Here at the outset, I need to confess that I’ve not read more than sixty, or so, pages of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, but I find I do agree with his conclusion–namely that love does indeed win!
How I get to this place is, I suppose, wildly divergent from Pastor Bell.
For millennia, we as a race have had the hardest time trying to define just what love is. I’ll not try to crack that nut today, but what I will is say is that for love to be love, it must be freely given. If it is coerced, it’s not love.
Even with the greatest “lover” of all time, God, we are free to love Him–or not. Thus I agree with Pastor Bell that love, to be love, requires a choice.
And that choice is ours. Pastor Bell speculates that those who have rejected God’s way of life in this world, will be given a second chance post-mortem. Scripturally, I’m not convinced of this.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Coupled with the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
These verses tell me (at least) that when we die, we go to God to have our life’s deeds evaluated.
What this means is that the choices we make now are of eternal consequence. That this life is the dress rehearsal for the true drama going on in the heavenlies. The realm that will one day come to earth. But is now existing in another plane.
Having said that, I don’t mean to imply at all that we are not to make this world a better place, to try to approximate heaven as near as we can here while we are here–we are. It’s more that God’s story is larger than just the here and now.
Jesus said, in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
From this I glean that–this may be a leap–that heaven is, in addition to the realm(s) we fashion here, also an actual place. A place where there “are many rooms,” where we will be together with Jesus.
But only those who want to be with Him will actually be there. As I said above, for love to be love, it requires a choice: to love, or not. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Notice: the King of Glory stands at the door and knocks–He doesn’t force His way in. He knocks, waiting for answer. An answer that may indeed never come–in this life, or the next.
God, being the perfect gentleman that He is, forces no one to love Him, but in His perfect love perfectly respects the freely made–heartbreaking though to Him it may be–choice each of us makes to love Him, or not.
So in the end–up or down, heaven or hell–love does indeed win.