I have watched the slide of Mark Driscoll from a distance. Once upon a time Driscoll played a significant role in my faith and my understanding of Jesus. I am thankful for that. While I haven’t thrown away everything I gained from him, I have a difficult time reconciling it with what he has become in the years since. I’ve kept my distance and haven’t written much about his “fall from grace.”
Most of the responses to him seems to fall into the categories of spite, anger, using him as an object lesson, or gossip and sensationalism. I don’t want to be part of any of that, though at times I likely have been. I hope what follows isn’t any of that. Because what I have come to see is something in me as much as in Mark Driscoll. I’m reminded of a time in my life when I fell and what God used to restore me, a restoration I hope God will work for Driscoll too.
Today I read the statement from Acts 29 announcing the removal of Driscoll and Mars Hill from their network. I am thankful for their decision and saddened by it. They made the right decision from a biblical standpoint and for the good of a church network that genuinely seeks to represent Jesus well. But I found no satisfaction that Driscoll “got what was coming to him.” I remember when he started A29. I was there when he began to gain a following as an author. For it to come to this is awful. I hope he responds. I hope his recent apologies are the beginning to real transformation, real repentance. Maybe this statement by men he once served alongside will be what God uses to shake him from his stupor.
Today I was reminded that a “fall from grace” is a public display of a need for grace.
He needs to be shown the grace of discipline – not retribution, but discipline. People doing and saying the hard, right things to help him see his sins and repent of them. The scary part of this aspect of grace is what happens if someone doesn’t respond. I have been there. In the end God may reach down and rip everything away or he may let the unresponsive one go on his miserable way. The first hurts like fire but leaves one humbled and ready to change. The second leaves one at the mercy of his own blindness.
He needs the grace of people who will stand by him, not as yes-men or flunkies but as sentinels and guides. I know from my own life that when a person is lost in sin what is up looks down and what is right looks left. It takes gracious, strong people to say what is truly up and truly right. And it takes the grace of humility in a sinner’s heart to trust in and respond to such sentinels.
He needs the grace of forgiveness. Most of us don’t need to forgive Driscoll because he didn’t hurt us, though he may have offended us. We just need to move on. But he did hurt many. And he needs their forgiveness. Rather, he needs them to stand ready to forgive when he is at the place when he can admit his need of it. Nobody needs to “let bygones be bygones.” In time, though, I hope they can hand over their hurts to God, release the anger and burden, and find healing in the grace of forgiveness. That forgiveness, the kind we experienced through Jesus, is one of the greatest displays of God’s grace the culture around us can ever see.
Each of these expressions of grace is a reflection of God’s great grace – the grace that breaks and heals, corrects and restores. That is ultimately the grace Mark Driscoll needs. And he needs it no more than I need it or you need it. Just because his fall was from a high and public place does not make his need greater, just more visible. I hope Mark Driscoll’s fall from grace will be a fall into grace.