I think Rob Bell is smart to reach out to teenagers with his new book “Love Wins: For Teens” because they will grow up to impact the world in greater ways in future. Teenagers are also particularly vulnerable to spiritual abuse in institutional churches because they are easily impressionable at their young age and do not yet have all the necessary experiences and retrospection to fall back on when it comes to evaluating teachings and deciding what is best for them.
So, what better way to create an inclusive and progressive culture for the church or body of Christ or family of God/Universe than to start with young people, and I am hopeful that this book will impact many young lives that will in turn impact many more lives through the ripple effect. Like what Rob Bell said, what we believe in God really matters, as it shapes and forms us in many ways.
As teenagers grow up knowing God is love and inclusive, they will learn to love and accept themselves instead of feeling rejected or left out for not being able to conform to certain norms, and they will end up loving and accepting others too. They will learn not to be bound by the legalistic, performance mindset that is prevalent in religious circles and instead be established in their own innate completeness and belovedness that is their true identity. They will also live in freedom from fear and condemnation, knowing God is not some vengeful and retributive judge in the sky but rather God is gracious and restorative love who is with them, for them, around them, in them and as them.
May the shift continue to demolish old religious systems as they make way for the new progressive life through the younger generations who are impacted and transformed by the inclusive and expansive love of God that never fails. Yes, indeed because love wins.