A few months ago I wrote about Mark Driscoll when he took a break from pastoring Mars Hill, the church that he planted in 1996. He took a break so the elders at Mars Hill could investigate his alleged “pattern of abusive and intimidating conduct.” Even though the elders didn’t recommend it, earlier this week Driscoll resigned from his position.
While I was never Driscoll’s biggest fan, I’m always saddened to see a pastor and church face struggles of this kind. More than anything, though, I was taken aback by the published report from the investigating elders. Here are two of the comments that really raised my eyebrows.
- “We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life and leadership, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”
- “Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.”
After I read those remarks, I couldn’t help but think that arrogance, harsh speech and domineering leadership are immoral. I assume that the investigating team meant that Driscoll didn’t have an affair, but there’s more to being moral than not committing sexual immorality.
When I raised my eyebrows at the report, I was forced to examine my own life and my own attitudes. How often have I looked at my behavior and sins, writing them off as less than immoral?
It’s too easy to justify our sins and view them as simple mistakes. Instead of acknowledging that our sins are acts of rebellion against God, we push them aside, treating them as peccadillos. However, sin is very often black and white. Our actions are often moral or immoral, honoring to God or dishonoring to him. When I’m arrogant, when I speak harshly, when I’m a domineering leader, then I am immoral. No amount of justification or explanation can change that reality.
Sin is serious business but so is grace. If we don’t take sin seriously, though, then we won’t see the full power of God’s amazing grace. It’s only when we acknowledge the true depth of our sin that we can find the full freedom Jesus gave us at the cross.
How do you keep from minimizing your sin?