Why is Mark Driscoll’s voice stuck in our heads?

September 2, 2013

As I try to do in every sermon I preach these days, I brought yesterday’s sermon, which focused on Luke 6:37-42, back home to Jesus’ victory on the cross. I said that one way we can avoid hypocrisy and be transparent to others is by remembering who we are:

Remember that you are a sinner. Saved… redeemed… a child of God… by all means! But still a sinner. We have no reason to hide this fact from one another. Why? Because Jesus himself took that giant wooden beam sticking out of my eye and the giant wooden beam sticking out of your eye and had himself crucified on it. We have nothing to be ashamed of because Christ took our shame away and nailed it to the cross! We have nothing to feel guilty about because God took our guilt and nailed it to the cross.

(Thanks to Tim Keller for the part about Jesus’ being crucified on our wooden beams.)

I concluded the sermon with the following paragraph:

Every sin we’ve ever committed or will ever commit, every shameful thing we’ve done or will ever do, everything we’ve done to hurt ourselves and other people—God took these things away from us and nailed them to the cross of his Son Jesus. So we don’t have to be guilty or ashamed anymore. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Who cares if other people condemn us for our sins and failures and shortcomings? Who cares if we condemn ourselves for our sins and failures and shortcomings? Although we got to stop doing that too! But who cares because the only One whose opinion of us matters tells us, “There is now no condemnation. You are a beloved child of God.”

I left a loose thread in this paragraph: “Who cares if we condemn ourselves…?” Note to self: say more about this in a future sermon.

Judging and condemning others is a huge problem for most of us (and I related yesterday’s sermon to the controversy surrounding Miley Cyrus), but what about our sinful tendency to judge and condemn ourselves? For me, that’s at least as big a problem.

When I preach, I’m always, in part, preaching to myself, but yesterday’s message was one that I especially needed to hear. In Christ, God doesn’t condemn me. Why do I so often condemn myself?

Jason Micheli, a fellow United Methodist pastor and blogger, picks up this same theme today in a sermon posted on Scot McKnight’s blog. He begins:

Who is against us? Who will condemn us?

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?

For the Apostle Paul, they’re rhetorical questions.

They’re Paul’s way of implying that if you sense any ambiguity about the answer, if you feel any uncertainty about the conclusion, then you should go back to chapter 1, verse 1 and start over.

In his sermon, Micheli is reacting to a recent sermon by Mark Driscoll called “God Hates You”—which sounds pretty horrifying, although I have no interest in listening to it to find out. I like this part a lot:

Even though you’d never say it in a sermon, you tell yourself that surely God’s fed up with you for the mess you made of your marriage or the mistakes you made with your kids or the ways your life hasn’t measured up.

Even though you’d never dream of saying to someone else ‘there’s no God will forgive that’ that’s exactly what you tell yourself when it comes to the secret that God knows but your spouse doesn’t.

Even though there’s no way you’d ever consider saying it to someone else, you still tell yourself that there’s no way your faith is deep enough, commitment strong enough, beliefs firm enough to ever please God.

Even though it would never cross your mind to say to someone else ‘God must be angry with you for something…God must be punishing you…’ many of you can’t get that out of your mind when you receive a diagnosis or suffer the death of someone close to you.

God hates you. God’s fed up with you. God’s sick and tired of you. God’s suffered long enough with you.

I can’t think of one of you who would let a voice like Mark Driscoll’s into this pulpit on a Sunday morning.

And yet I can think of a whole lot of us who every day let a voice just like his into our heads.

Micheli blogs over at Tamed Cynic.

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