“To accuse those of us are who bloodied and wounded after being thrown under the bus of bitterness is just a continuance of the abuse that has become part and parcel of the leadership style at Mars Hill Church”
A common perception among many who are still at Mars Hill as well as some that have left is that those of us speaking up are bitter and angry people who desire revenge.
Here is an example.
“Rob, The bottom honest line is that you are perceived as a bitter, angry man and some I know want to keep their distance from you. I know it hurts to hear this, but that is the perception. That plus it appears that you are a one trick pony not really interested in the well being of the church or of its leadership but of primarily exercising revenge for what happened to you, Bent and Paul. ”
(Interesting fact is that I received this note after over six years of silence relating to Mars Hill leadership.)
So let’s talk about anger, bitterness and revenge.
Anger is not necessarily sin, as well all know the admonition to “be angry, and do not sin” (Eph 4:26)
I can acknowledge that in many ways I have been angry. I was angry that Mark Driscoll threatened to destroy me and my ministry. I was angry that he used me and my precious wife’s talents with such little regard or respect. I was angry that he manipulated the ouster of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in such a way as to coerce twenty four elders to vote away governance by a plurality of elders. I am angry that he, Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas lied to me, about me and slandered my name. I could go on.
There are many valid reasons that those of us thrown under the bus can point to that have made us angry. Every time we hear of another spin, another lie, another abuse or excuse, it can rekindle anger.
But anger itself is not sinful. Jesus was angry (and that was not one of Jesus’ mistakes the Driscoll’s teaching implied last week). http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/05/19/mars-hill-church-deletes-mark-driscolls-teaching-on-jesus-making-mistakes/
Righteous anger leads to righteous action. Anger, if not channeled well, can lead to bitterness.
This is an interesting one. A bitter person is one who carries deep animosity from excessive grief and hurt. It often comes as a result of being treated unjustly where the victim feels helpless and rather than turning to Jesus or others for help, they just let the injustice fester and fester until they are consumed by the pain and resentment.
Talking about excessive grief. 2 Cor 2:6 & 7 comes to mind. This verse has significance in the light of the years of abuse at Mars Hill, and particularly in the light of over years of seeing members being shunned without recourse or an end to it. Bear in mind, that the man whom Paul is talking about was punished for sleeping with his step-mother in open defiance of Scripture. He was not accused of trivial “sins” such as the ones that Paul Petry, Bent Meyers or others have faced.
“ The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Cor 2:6-8
So we see that Paul taught that failure to end the punishment would lead to the man being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. This could cause bitterness, or at the very least look like bitterness.
So perhaps those that accuse the bodies that are under the Mars Hill bus of bitterness, are not seeing bitterness, but excessive sorrow. In the case above, fair punishment and rebuke that continued too long was seen as wrong. Contrast this to Paul Petry’s shunning. It has been almost seven years (and was unjust in many people’s opinion). Yet it has not been lifted despite calls for such by many. www.joyfulexiles.com
The way to end the excessive sorrow is not to rebuke the person for being bitter, but to forgive, comfort and reaffirm one’s love. What a contrast to what we have seen from the leaders and ex-leaders at Mars Hill Church.
So those that are accusing me and others of being bitter may be inaccurate in what they are seeing as it could be excessive sorrow. Furthermore, they just might be a part of the reason that the excessive sorrow exists as I shall show in the case of the example above.
In my case, the person who said above that I was perceived as bitter was former elder of Mars Hill Church – Dave Kraft. He was representing the view of the twenty elders and ex-elders who have filed grievances against Mark Driscoll.
Dave Kraft was a part of the Executive Investigation team that put together the evidence against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. His statement above represented the feelings of men who also voted against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.
When I was placed under church discipline for appealing to the elders for a fair trial Dave Kraft, along with former Mars Hill elder Tim Reber, were at the side of Pastor James Harleman laying out the unfair charge against me. http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/mars-hill-rob-smith-email-to-elders-10-14-2007.pdf
Dave Kraft was a co-perpetrator of the abuse against me, and supported the elders’ actions toward Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. His harsh words above represent the position of many of the men who are currently filing charges against Mark Driscoll. What we are seeing is that the perpetrators of abuse against me , Paul Petry and probably hundreds of other bodies under the bus are pointing to the excessive sorrow they have help create, and calling it bitterness.
Since sending me that note above, Dave Kraft and his merry men have essentially cut me off. They are either intentionally or unintentionally shunning me. This is the very thing that Mars Hill Church leadership has supported, and ostensibly what he and the other nineteen elders are accusing Mark Driscoll of. They all ought to face the very charges that they are accusing Mark Driscoll of.
To accuse those of us are blowho odied and wounded after being thrown under the bus of bitterness is just a continuance of the abuse that has become part and parcel of the leadership style at Mars Hill Church
A final thought regarding bitterness. How on earth can you say someone else is bitter? It is hard enough to identify it in oneself, let alone be sure that another person is bitter. I am sure I am bitter at times. For that, I need to repent. But for me to say that you are bitter is a guess, because you may not be bitter at all. You may be just be carrying excessive grief, especially if the injustice you feel is not dealt with.
This is an interesting one.
Revenge is actually a righteous thing. But because we are sinners, we are encouraged to leave revenge to God. This verse below seems to suggest that if we take revenge, we are interfering with the pouring out of God’s wrath.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
So to the dear Mars Hill leader, member, ex-leader, or ex-member who are accusing those of us that are speaking out: why would we even want revenge? Surely, if what we are accused of is true, is it not based upon an injustice done in the first place? And to be honest, earthly revenge may be better than God’s wrath. It may be unwise to reject our revenge if it were what we are up to. The alternative might be far worse.
No one would want revenge if there was not harm done in the first place. And certainly speaking out and calling for justice is not an indicator that our words or actions are motivated by revenge.
This accusation, that we are exercising revenge is an easy one.
As for me I do not even know what kind of revenge I would want – even if I did want it. I will leave room for God’s wrath. After all, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31