Monday, July 25, 2011

I Wish I Could Hate Mark Driscoll

And here is where I may lose some friends...but this has been sitting in my heart for some time now, and I just need to get it out.

For the longest time, I had no clue who Mark Driscoll was. I know, I know - it's hard to believe that someone with as "big" of a name as he has within certain circles in Christian culture could fly under my radar for so long. What can I say? I'm the guy who is still not 100% converted to listening to Hillsong for praise and worship music. I'm like the counter-culture within the counter-culture. But three things happened this past year in rapid-fire succession that brought Dricsoll to my attention.

Most recently, there was the [choose your own adjective] storm he brewed up online, for trying to either call out, make fun of, or mock what he deemed as "effeminate anatomically male worship leaders." Although he did later delete this post as well as "apologize" for placing such a statement online, he never actually admitted to any wrong-doing. He never apologized for the content of what he said, only the context in which it was first placed (Facebook).

As someone who has in his past been picked on, ridiculed, and bullied for his lack of stereotypical manliness, while I may not be a worship leader, his comments hurt me and did reopen some old wounds.

Going a little further back, there was the moderate war that was waged on-line between the respective camps of the churches who have "Mars Hill" in their names. Before Rob Bell's latest book LOVE WINS was released, Driscoll was one of the first to jump in on the witch hunt to condemn both Bell and his book as heretical and full of what he deemed as false doctrine - all without even having read anything more than the cover of the book. While he has not redacted this statement, he did manage to write an extensive article espousing his point of view and beliefs on hell, basically calling out Bell without ever using his name.

When I was in the eighth grade, I was introduced to a little something called the Banned Books List. I was offended that someone else thought they knew best what I should and should not read, and I made it my mission to read every book on this list. Even if I wasn't already a fan of Bell's work (note that I said "fan," meaning I appreciate and get something out of what he says, not that I agree 100% with every word that he writes or speaks) - because someone was telling me to not read this book made me want to read it all the more. Especially when that someone was not judging the book of the content of it, but on their perception of what the content was.

And then - there is this. Mark Driscoll's condemnation of stay-at-home-dads. Yeah. This one's REALLY personal.

This is, quite honestly, the first anything of Driscoll's that was brought to my attention. What's interesting is that I received the exact same video clip from several people all within the same week, but with different motivations for sending it to me: some were sharing it with me so that I might get irate with them, thinking "how DARE he make such accusations," while others sent it to me to show me the error of my ways as a SAHD and that I was, clearly, acting out of accordance with how God had designed and made me and wanted me to be as a husband and father.

While I am tempted to address the later group first, I'm going to hold my tongue for now. The main reason for my silence to them is that I am in the midst of writing a book about my experiences as a stay at home dad, and addressing being a stay at home dad through a Biblical focus is kinda a big lynchpin in the premise. So, patience, young Jedi. Maybe you can read it one day. But still, I want to get angry and write a tirade against his misinterpretation of Scripture. I want to ask him in person (and I may in fact see him in person at Catalyst this year) how he can condemn me for loving my son. I want to remind him that more people respond to Jesus as shepherd than they do to Jesus the conquering bad-ass he espouses. I want to get angry and hate him - but I can't. And here's why:

As a believer, I am called to respect both the authority and the position he has been given as a minister. As a believer, I am called to look at him and through admittedly gritted teeth acknowledge that he is my brother and I am called to love him.

This does not mean that I have to agree with, like, or even give one ounce of credit to what he says. This does not mean that I can not take some of his views and opinions as hate-filled, egotistical, arrogant, hurtful, and even un-Biblical. This does not mean that because I am called to love him, I have to agree with him. Anyone who has ever been in any kind of a family structure can tell you that just because you love someone, it does not mean you have to like them all the time, or even part of the time.

What I can do is show him the same grace that has been shown to me when I, in putting my desires and opinions above others, have hurt people. 

What I can do I tell him (like he'd read this) that I am sorry for whatever has hurt him so much that he feels the need to lash out like this. 

What I can do is through my words and actions illustrate that there are loving and redeemed faces, people, and souls behind the names and accusations he levies against us. 

What I can do is show him love (I have heard that love wins, after all) and remind myself that though he may condemn me, it is the Spirit which convicts me. 

And if my comparatively less-stereotypically-manly stay-at-home-dad believer in grace self has not felt the same pangs of guilt I usually feel when I am acting out of accordance of God's will...well, then.

God's never grown tired of turning the other cheek with me. How can I do any less?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yea, Though I Walk...

It was one of the first passages of Scripture that was hammered into my skull at a young age (thank you, Bible drills at church). It was one of the first passages of Scripture that I was required to memorize. It is one of the most-quoted passages in movies, TV shows, and at funerals. And in the King James Version translation, no less.

And it's due in no small part to that valley. Of the shadow of death (KJV). The darkest valley (NLT). Death Valley (MSG). The one we all, at times, have felt like we walk through.

Here's what's a little amazing about valleys: at the time David wrote this passage, and even as recently as the period of the settling of the American West, valleys were typically a place of comfort. It was where one went to find shade, water, food, or even protection from the elements. 

Valleys are usually formed from water running through them or the rushing of the wind. And valleys tend to come in one of two shapes: U or V, which means that they all have an entry point...and an exit point.

We tend to interpret this passage from Psalm 23 (verse 4) about being in the Valley of the Shadow of Death as an allegory for a struggle we have to go through, a burden we have to bear. We (rightfully) see this as a promise from God to see us through whatever is pressing down on us. And sadly, that's about as far as we sometimes let our interpretation take us.

What if we tried to see the valley as something helping to shape us? What if we allowed the Spirit to rush through us (Acts 2:2) to help form us while we are walking in this valley? What if that river in the valley was meant to be "a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:1 NLT), and not something which could drown us?

I'm not advocating that we celebrate the struggle, because - let's be honest - at the time, who REALLY feels like rejoicing? However, for as damaging and painful as we might think the time in the valley might be to us, we can draw what strength we can in the promise that our valley was "intended to harm, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people." (Genesis 50:20 NLT)

Shadows pass. And shadows do not and can not exist without the presence of the sun. So for as much as we are under that shadow, we are also under the Son.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stained Glass Chess Board

A few weeks back, I heard someone make the comment that they were in the midst of a huge discussion which would result in a major strategic move for their church.

I realize that in today's culture, it would be ridiculous to ignore the sage words of wisdom available to those employed in churches about ways to reach out, market to, and engage both the unchurched as well as the disenfranchised who have left. There are numerous sincere people and quality organizations which exist to help in bettering both the person serving and the church they serve in. But when did it begin to feel like serving in ministry was analogous to Coca-Cola trying to capture a larger market share?

I find it disheartening when, instead of simply doing the best at what you are called to do, some individuals feel the need to always be on the move to take their ministry "to the next level," or whatever the latest marketing buzz-phrase du jour happens to be. Perhaps my simply-a-layperson perspective looks at this with a faith that's a bit too child-like, but I tend to take Christ at His Word when - for example - in Matthew 23 He gives the parable of the three servants. When the servant who actually did what they were called to do, to what they were assigned to, was confronted by his master, “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’" (verse 25).

Now, if you sincerely feel God pulling/urging you to move your ministry or organization to something bigger and better - however that may be defined - then by all means, go. Run. Follow your heart and the Spirit. The unfortunate reality is that too many people try to mimic or reinvent the wheel in patterning their ministry, their mode of dress, or even how and what they say because Rock Star Pastor X is doing it or has done it. When we begin to quote and live by the theology of how to do something or how to interpret a specific passage of Scripture because Rock Star Pastor X has said or done it, that goes beyond being influenced by them as a leader. That way lies idolatry.

I don't play chess. I'd love to learn how, and I probably will some day. But even my uneducated self knows that the king is a more powerful piece than the pawn in the game. Why are we so apt to try and remove the power from our King to let Him just move, shake and shape us? We don't need to nor should we control the board.