“As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? 2 Samuel 11: 5b-9a
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8: 31, 32
All this week I’ve been listening to a podcast put out by the journalists at Christianity Today called the “Rise and Fall of Mars Hill”. Mars Hill, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the name, is a HUGE megachurch (we are talking attendance of over 12,000) that had 15 different sites and a really big polished online presence. It was founded by 3 different men: Mark Driscoll, Leif Moi and Mike Gunn in 1996 from a small home church that had 30 people in attendance. It was dissolved in 2015 in a flurry of controversy over the ‘repeated bullying and harassing behaviour’ of one of the founders; Mark Driscoll.
Its been really compelling listening – kinda like watching a slo-mo trainwreck.
Mark Driscoll really treated people in an abysmal way. Not only that, but he repeatedly preached sermons that were verging on hate speech; particularly towards those who identify as LGBTQ+ and women. So really, the church needed to collapse. This is a good thing. And Mark Driscoll needed to be called on the carpet.
But here’s the thing. I want you to notice some of the numbers I put in the first paragraph. (I pulled them from Wikepedia; so bear that in mind). The church existed for almost 20 years. The church was founded by 3 people. AND over 12,000 people attended the church on a weekly basis.
And it took all of that to call Mark Driscoll’s behaviour into question.
All of this has me thinking and pondering why we elevate people who are like this, when our scriptures remind us repeatedly that as Christians we are called to a place of humility and justice. Last week I blogged about the story of David and Bathsheba, and the first scripture that I posted is an excerpt from Nathan speech to David, confronting him on his behaviour. Nathan was a court-appointed prophet, and it was his job to ‘advise’ the king, but Nathan was also David’s friend and so I can’t imagine that this was an easy conversation. But Nathan took it on anyway. Nathan told David the truth about his behaviour and that it was leading him in an entirely wrong direction. And this truth telling – well it led to David repenting, asking for forgiveness and changing up where he was going. And what do we know about David? Well that he became the lineage that birthed our Messiah – our own salvation birthed from a moment of truth telling and of listening to this Truth.
But Truth isn’t something we like very much, is it. The story of Mars Hill tells us that we like- well – big. Charismatic. Popular. Attractive. That we will let all sorts of lies and false personas go by if it looks good and appeals to the popular vote. We continue to quest and value people who are ‘larger than life’ and we hothouse our kids to that they can become the same, instead of people who enact justice and mercy, who share meals with the ‘underdogs’ of this world and who call the community of people on the margins their ‘family’. (I will save my opinion on who the people are on the margins of our communities for another blog).
We also punish our Nathans. We say that they must be wrong because ‘look; so many people think that this is good’, or that this truth telling is impolite or unkind. Or that those on the margins are not deserving of being our community because – well – they aren’t like us.
But Jesus reminds us that truth – well – that’s what sets us free. Not prominence. Not power. Not popularity. Not even success.
In all of its unvarnished, unrefined, unpopular self.
So, my friends, I encourage you to find your Nathans. The ones that will confront you on your own lies and self-deceit. The ones who will remind you that what you’ve been pursuing isn’t what God wants. The ones who will love you enough to offer you Truth. Because that is where you will find your freedom.
Blessings today and remember you are Loved.