I decided to take some time with this post, and make sure I was still thinking and feeling what I was in the moment that inspired it.
In 2008, I started reading/listening to Mark Driscoll’s works. Mark is the founder and Teaching Pastor of Mars Hill Church out of Seattle. I was familiar with his background and tone, having heard about his style and demeanor from a multitude of peers. I half-expected the first message I heard to be chalked full of epithets from the way he was described to me.
I was roughly a year into overcoming my porn addiction, when I found out that he’d be teaching through Song of Solomon. As you may know, this book from the Bible is poetic, but also explicit, in talking about love between a husband and wife. I thought it would be good to listen to the messages. When I started listening to them, I really appreciated the frank, gospel-centered approach to a text that people traditionally try to gloss over. I told Jana about the message series, and she started listening as well.
When that series finished, I continued to listen to his podcasts from time to time. I appreciated his series Doctrine, and currently lead a study on the subsequent book that came out of it.
I’ve also appreciated Mark’s willingness, along with his wife Grace, to be so open about their marriage. They put themselves out there for people to pick apart and attack, but many are grateful for their example and teaching. Their honesty about their failings early in their relationship and marriage, how it affected their ministry, and how God restored and redeemed their marriage and ministry, is encouraging. It’s hopeful to many Christians who feel they are failing in their marriage/family, but are afraid to say anything because of how they may be perceived.
God has used Mark’s teaching, along with many others*, to help me grow spiritually.
*Pastors/Leaders who have influenced me the most (outside of my church and its pastor and teaching pastors) are Dan Allender, Mark Driscoll, Steven Furtick, Bill Hybels, Timothy Keller and Rick Warren. I’m sure some would consider this a group of strange bedfellows.
When some people in the church have found out that I read/listen to Mark Driscoll, there have been some that have pushed back vehemently. It’s interesting to me. They usually don’t ask why I like Driscoll, but instead go on the attack about something Driscoll allegedly* said. And then, they project their anger over Driscoll, and similar pastors, onto me. They think I’m an idiot for holding what they assume to be the same views as him.
*Often, what they are upset about with Driscoll is usually something he didn’t say, or is something that is taken out of context.
I don’t agree with everything Driscoll believes. There have been times I shake my head at the stuff he says. I find it unnecessary, and/or it gets in the way of more important matters of the Bible. This can be from his rant about Avatar, to the way he espouses a macho identity of manhood and links it to Biblical masculinity.
Seeing this tweet of his, last Monday, was disappointing.
Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.
— Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) January 21, 2013
I can only speculate why he’d tweet this out, knowing he is going to get an immediate and visceral reaction from the thousands that follow him on social media. He’s entitled to that opinion, but tweeting it out isn’t helpful in my opinion. I don’t agree with it.
Driscoll reminded me of Russell Westbrook with the tweet. Westbrook is an NBA basketball player, the starting point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s an all-star, Olympian, and arguably one of the ten best players in the NBA right now. And, he’s only 24 years old.
Despite all his talent and accomplishments, he seems to be known more for his off nights or the “holes” in his game. Bill Simmons calls it his “10 Percent Theory” when it comes to the best NBA players. People can either dwell on the talent and skill, the 90%, of the NBA player, or they can dwell on the “holes” in the NBA player’s game. The 10%. Some players 10% are more glaring than others, which is why they are picked apart relentlessly.
I shook my head at Driscoll’s tweet, but was frustrated because it would also dredge up the narrative that is fairly/unfairly (depending on your perspective) established with him. People would focus in on Driscoll’s 10% and continue to define him by that.* However, I see the 90% with Driscoll. Yes, I see someone who sins (like the rest of us). However, I see someone who is pursuing Jesus and trying to make a difference. I see someone who is open with his failings, and allowing God to redeem them so they can be used for good. I see someone who God has used to impact my life, marriage, family and work for the better. I’m grateful to God for Mark Driscoll.
*I can only imagine what people would say about my life if I was as public as Mark Driscoll.
There aren’t too many players you are trading Russell Westbrook for right now. And not that pastors/leaders are trade assets…Driscoll is still going strong for the Kingdom.
If I only read books from leaders I completely agreed with, I’d have nothing outside the Bible on my bookshelves.
When it comes to politics, I don’t often go public with my thoughts on various issues and candidates. I don’t want to lose someone over my political leanings* or support for/against an issue the Bible isn’t clear about. With people, it’s more important to me to lose some political arguments so I can gain a friend and hopefully draw them closer to Jesus.
*By the way, I’m a registered independent.
It’s a philosophy I didn’t start off with as a Christian. Early on, I let my political beliefs dictate my faith, which was absurd when it ran counter to the Bible. Worse, the world can see through the act sometimes, and it is a horrible reflection on the Church.
Some would vehemently disagree with this tweet from Rick Warren, but I guess it’s all in how you interpret it. I like it.
The more political a church is, the less it is a church.
— Rick Warren (@RickWarren) October 13, 2012
Are we trying to establish God’s Kingdom, or our own kingdom? Are we trying to establish something eternal, or something temporary? Are we trying to make a point at the expense of the gospel?
“Are we making a point, or making a difference?” –Andy Stanley
When we blatantly align ourselves with a political party, or make an unsubstantiated attack on the President, we cut people off from the church. Whether we realize it or not, or whether or not we want to admit it, people don’t hear the good news of Jesus because of our unnecessary political statements. We are “the hope of glory”. We shouldn’t be preventing people from coming to Jesus because of our politics.
Pray For/Against Obama