Poets, prophets, and preachers. Who I learn from the most, and who I aspire to be. Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “I did not ask God for success, I asked for wonder, and He gave it to me.” I feel the exact same way.
I grew up in the church and most of the Bible never made any sense to me. In 2004 I took my first trip to Israel and everything changed. It was like going from black and white to color in the Wizard of Oz, and my life hasn’t been the same since. During my time in Israel, what I discovered in the Bible was so surprising, unexpected and beautiful, that whatever I was told or taught growing up, the good news was actually better than that, better than I ever could’ve imagined. As Rob Bell once said, “The good news is that love wins.”
When it comes to studying the Biblical text, the modern impulse is always to reduce it to simple principles and clever maxims. To continually insist that with enough work, it will all make sense and line up.
Life doesn’t always line up.
We love the Scriptures and want them to sweep us off our feet.
The title of this blog is based around the theory that we are currently living “between the trees.” If you look at the beginning and ending scenes in the Biblical text, both have a tree as the centerpiece. We are currently in the space between Genesis and Revelation; therefore we are living between the trees. For Jesus living between the trees meant that heaven and hell were present realities.
The question wasn’t, how do I get into heaven? It was, how do I bring heaven here? The question wasn’t, how do I get in there, but how do I get there, here? What’s most disturbing in present day is that Christians talk more about hell after this life then hell here and now. I want to resist hell coming to earth in the forms of poverty, injustice, and suffering. We should oppose these hells on earth with everything in our power.
When it comes to our interactions with God, we must remember that the spirit of God is messy. And that is not heresy. The Spirit moves in wild and unrestrained ways and demands that we run as far as we can to keep up. As Howard Macey once said, “The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.”
The most dangerous place to be in the universe is the center of God’s will.
That is where I want to be.
I hope I never think I’ve nailed it.
I hope I never believe that I have arrived.
I hope it is always dangerous.
Always flying by the seat of my pants.
I hope the struggles keep me begging for God’s guidance.
I often hear Christians tell me what God has been saying to them in their times of meditation and study and prayer and I’m often amazed. He tells them the most profound, eloquent things.
All I seem to ever hear is: “Rob, get out of my way.”
See Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis for a discussion of bringing heaven here and a variety of these topics. It is an absolutely brilliant book. The above description borrows heavily from this source and the Younger Evangelicals book described below.
See The Younger Evangelicals by Brian E. Weber for a discussion of the scriptures sweeping us off our feet, and several other items discussed above.