About 2 months ago, I scheduled a Skype Interview with Mark Driscoll to talk about his new book Who Do You Think You Are. At the last min, the interview was canceled and I was asked to submit written questions for interview. Well, after a long wait, I received the interview questions from Mark Driscoll today. So I present to you a brief Revangelical Connection interview with Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Why did you choose to do this series on Ephesians and this book/topic?
I’ve been working through parts of Ephesians for a long time. Ephesians 5 is a really important section on marriage, gender roles, and relationships. Ephesians 6 is a really important section on spiritual warfare, Satan and demons, and spiritual opposition against the believer. Ephesians 1 is really big on predestination, election, choosing, and the pattern of salvation. So there are chunks of Ephesians that I’ve been working on, studying on, thinking on for a long time. I taught Ephesians a number of years ago but I don’t feel like I did a great job, so I wanted to do the book again. I’ve been preparing and planning and finally felt like it was time to go ahead and do that.
This is one of your first major books that was written for a sermon series before the series was preached. Why?
For years at Mars Hill Church we were strong in preaching and proclamation but weaker in discipleship and care. We grew to become a church with thousands of people and only a couple dozen small groups. Our pastors were buried in counseling, and our people were not mobilized to do the work of the ministry. Over the years, through lots of prayer, hard work, and trial and error, we’ve developed a way to better serve our people through something we call “campaigns.” We produce as much material we can on the front end of a sermon series so that our people have as many opportunities as possible to learn and grow. It’s not just the book, but also study guides, worship guides, small group curriculum, and more. We introduced the concept with Real Marriage in early 2012, and it’s worked really well. It’s a lot of work to prepare a full campaign in advance of every sermon series I preach, but at the very least we provide materials for our now 600+ Community Groups to walk through the books of the Bible that we study together as a church on Sundays.
The whole concept of “grasping your identity in Christ” is rather heady and disconnected from “real life”. How do we practically live out our identity in Christ and what does it look like?
The concept actually has a ton of real-world application. In the church, we still go to the Bible to find out who God is, but unfortunately it’s common to depart from Scripture in favor of more “practical” sources when it comes to understanding who we are: social sciences, psychology, sociology. These disciplines may be helpful, but ultimately they fall short.
In the book I share the story of Hannah, a young woman who grew up in the church. She walked away from Jesus as a teenager and found her identity in boys and her self worth in sex as they worshiped her body. The Holy Spirit ultimately convicted her of her sin, but rather than trusting in Jesus for a new identity, she believed she was nothing more than a guilty sinner, filled with shame and remorse. Once she realized the truth of grace, however, that she was made new in Christ as a child of God, everything changed. “I have never felt so liberated in my life,” she said. Hannah has new joy, new desires, new hope, and a new future because she understands her new identity in Jesus.
In the book you say that most of our underlying struggles in life are rooted in an issue of identity. Can you explain what you mean?
What we see in Genesis 1 is that God tells us who he is and who we are, and then in Genesis 3, Satan tells us who he thinks God is and who he thinks we are. He shows up and basically says, “Adam and Eve, I have a way for you to be like God.” God already made us like him (Gen. 1:26), but Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s lie. Our first parents disbelieved their God-given identity and instead sought to create their own apart from him. The result was the first sin and the Fall. We humans have had an identity crisis ever since, seeking to construct an identity ourselves while forgetting about the one God has already given us.
What is one thing that has changed in your theology in the last five years?
My theology hasn’t changed, but I am learning to emphasize certain truths that I’ve perhaps neglected in the past. For example, through the pen of Paul in Ephesians, God tells his church, “I do not cease to give thanks for you” (Eph. 1:16). Jesus appreciates us! I’ve often taught God’s omniscience as some sort of threat: he knows all and sees all of your sin. This is true, of course, but he sees more than just our sin. He also sees our obedience, our service, and our generosity. People may not appreciate all you do, but God sees what is done in secret. He knows we’re not perfect, but he appreciates us nonetheless.
There is glorious encouragement in the omniscience of God for those who are obedient and faithful. This is an incredible concept that really transforms the way we treat other people. If you crave encouragement and appreciation from other people, you'll end up using them rather than loving them. If your appreciation comes from the Lord Jesus, not only will it be perfect, but also it will free you up to love and care for others without needing anything in return.
We want to thank Pastor Mark Driscoll for his participation in this interview. You can pick up his latest book Who Do You Think You Are at a bookstore near you!
Grace and Peace