I've been reading this book in short bursts, and have really enjoyed it. Every page holds something to chew on. I offer this to whet your appetite if you haven't yet picked this one up:
So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross, he was reconciling "all things, in heaven and on earth, to God". All things, everywhere.This reality then isn't something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.
God is retelling each of our stories in Jesus. All of the bad parts and the ugly parts and the parts we want to pretend never happened are redeemed. They seemed pointless and they were painful at the time, but God retells our story and they become the moments when God's grace is most on display. We find ourselves asking, am I really forgiven of that? The fact that we are loved and accepted and forgiven in spite of everything we have done is simply too good to be true. Our choice becomes this: We can trust his retelling of the story, or we can trust our telling of our story. It is a choice we make every day about the reality we are going to live in.
And this reality extends beyond this life.
Heaven is full of forgiven people.
Hell is full of forgiven people.
Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for.
Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for.
The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust.
Ours is God's.
When we choose God's vision of who we are, we are living as God made us to live. We are living in the flow of how we are going to live forever. This is the life of heaven, here and now. And as we live this life, in harmony with God's intentions for us, the life of heaven becomes more and more present in our lives. Heaven comes to earth. This is why Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." There is this place, this realm, heaven, where things are as God desires them to be. As we live this way, heaven comes here. To this place, this world, the one we're living in.
–Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, pp. 146-7 (The book can be purchased here, and I highly recommend it.)