Mark Driscoll is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He planted the church over 10 years ago and God has seemingly done amazing things through Driscoll’s ministry, establishing and growing a church to over 5000 people in the midst of an unapologetically godless city. Driscoll is the kind of pastor that most non-traditionalists love. He is witty, sarcastic, irreverent, and to use Driscoll’s own terminology, “spooky smart”. He has a heart for the church, is wildly conservative in this theology, and willing to say what most people, particularly pastors, are afraid to even think.

During a recent post on Driscoll’s blog he laments the negative press that he and his church have recently received from two publications (http://theresurgence.com/md_blog_2006-09-19_its_always_something_at_mars_hill_church), and I must confess that I was really suprised at Driscoll’s response to the criticism. You’d probably have to be familiar with Driscoll to fully understand my perplextion, but I was surprised by what was noticeably absent in Driscoll’s musings about the criticism received: a biblical response to what Driscoll and Mars Hill Church surely should have expected.

Driscoll says, “It does sadden me when I see cheap shots taken at our people because, in some ways, they are just getting some of the stray bullets that missed me. I’m sure we’ll be here again soon and before long it will seem more normal. I guess I’ve been taking hits for so long that I’m more accustomed to it. This is one glimpse into the tough and sometimes darker side of the job that I wish I could shield my people from. In some ways, I must confess that I do bring it on myself because at times I do cross lines and I have not learned the art of subtlety.”

This is why I am surprised. There is no biblical response, only an emotional one. While criticism stings and may even be warranted, it is also a cause for rejoicing. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). I found no cause for celebration or rejoicing in Driscoll’s lament. And it is in times like these that we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves.

One of the reasons I admire Driscoll is because of his commitment to live out the Gospel within the context of his community. He challenges his people not to retreat from their culture, but rather to immerse in it and seek its redemption in Jesus. I think this is what Scripture calls us to do. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1Pet 2:11-12). I feel certain that if Driscoll were reading this verse it wouldn’t be for the first time, and I am sure that he believes in its truth.

May we all be reminded that living for Jesus will bring a fair amount of reproach, judgment and scorn from the world, even from the likes of the Lauren Sadler’s of the world that we will welcome into our homes with open arms, only to find that they are only scouring for the bullets with which to take aim at us. And in the moments where we find a bullseye on our back and people take cheap shots at us, let us remember that these trials are for our good, to make us perfect and complete and more like the Son Jesus who is the cause of our lives and object of our worship and adoration.

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