Fresh tomatoes have their place. And that place is not in my mouth.
Mexican restaurants are the worst perpetrators, probably because they are simply awash in fresh tomatoes. They put fresh tomatoes on and in everything. Therefore, even when I order my burrito with “NO TOMATOES,” I still routinely find rogue stow-away chunks of tomato pulp hidden among the tender folds of my flour tortilla. I can’t escape them. So I’m forced to eat my Chipotle burritos with great caution, carefully scanning each bite for refugee tomato chunks that have slipped in among the pinto beans unannounced. Sure as shootin’ if I eat my burrito with abandon and blind trust… BAM. I’m going to bite into a chunk of unwelcomed tomato pulp and get a case of the jigglies. *insert shudder here*
Here it is: my distaste for fresh tomatoes parallels my feelings about snark in the Church. I have been known to enjoy hurling a sarcastic tweet into the wild now and again. I admit it. And I admit it with some degree of regret, because I recognize it as a part of my fallen nature. More often than not sarcasm cuts deeper than can be justified. I’m trying to change my ways in this regard.
Now when I’m listening to a brother or sister in leadership, or reading from a fellow Christian blogger or columnist, when I run headlong into a face-full of snark, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. Like a chunk of fresh tomato. Uninvited. Unappreciated. Unwanted. Ineffective.
Mark Driscoll just got a talking to from his elder board. Mark is a guy with whom I agree on a broad spectrum of theological issues. I’m in his camp most of the time. And I love his passion to minister to and engage the 20 and 30 something MEN of the Church. No doubt, we need strong voices calling men to be leaders and fulfill their biblical calling to be the head of the home they are made to be – and to lead the Church with a mix of Spirit-led confidence and humble grace.
However, Mark does have a cocky side.
The dark side of strong leadership gifts is a propensity toward pride and rash decision-making. As much as I have loved brother Mark over the years, this was a foolish thing to do.
Earlier this month, Driscoll posted the following question on Facebook:
Yep, he did. Yuck-o.
Now blogger/speaker Rachel Held Evans has publically taken him to the woodshed. His elders have taken corrective action. And Mark responded with a non-apology, but an acknowledgement that he lacked judgement and is glad to be under the authority of elders who will reign him in when necessary.
All of this is like a big, gnarly chunk of tomato in the proverbial burrito of my Mark Driscoll relationship.
I have written about this kind of “since I’m right you’re not worthy of respect” attitude in the Church before – check out the related links below this post. It matters to me because it matters to the church. I don’t bring up the Mark Driscoll junk in order to join any bandwagons, or to make this debate about Mark and his ministry. Rather, this is an example. A real time example. Mark has lost some credibility in my eyes. His snark has a cost. He may have important things to say to the men of the church. But this snarky tone is unwise. Uninvited. Unappreciated. Unwanted. Ineffective.
Because of an overload of pride and snark, Driscoll has lost the opportunity to effectively share the Gospel with thousands of people who will now write him off as an unkind, homophobic chauvanist. I mean, there are plenty of people who already had come to that conclusion. Now even more will tune him out, and that’s a net loss for the Kingdom. When he speaks of the saving power of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross on our behalf, he is clear, he is potent, he is offering the only hope we have of eternal life. But now, how many will ignore (or worse, discount with prejudice) whatever he has to say about Jesus Christ… all for a moment of snark?
When you are a Christ-follower, and a leader in the Church, no less, the consequences are eternal.
Snarky = sinfully caloused to the spiritual reality that we are ALL sinners who need the grace of Jesus. No exceptions. There is a place for watchdogs in the Church, calling out “Danger! Danger!” when false teachers are threatening to steal from God’s flock. Wolves among the sheep. However, I am wary of those who make “watchdog” their identity – if they wear the title with pride – and wield their opinions with more snark than love. We are to be motivated by awe and love, yes, rather than sarcasm and guilt? Snark is unkind, and it raises defenses. A kind word turns away wrath, and even those we disagree with are more likely to listen if we engage them with respect.
My world will be that much closer to heaven when I see less snarky barbs being hurled between brothers. If you intend to hurl tomatoes at other brothers and sisters in the Church, I’ll ask you to consider a less caustic approach to dialogue. And I’ll ask you not to get any of that pulpy mess in my Tex-Mex, thank you very much.
Talk to me…
“yes, i’d like some sound biblical teaching with a side of discernment and extra intergrity… hold the snark” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.