There are two kinds of lessons in life- those that make you wiser, and those that simply make you smarter. I'm not going to immediately parse those two for you- hopefully it will become clear what I mean.
(And in clear defiance of Chris Leo's proposed ban on Driscoll posts for the rest of calendar year 2006, and at the risk of incurring Chris's wrath, I'm going to go ahead and say something that's been on my mind the past few days. It starts with the Driscoll, but moves on from there, so hang with me... though this will be the last about Mark for awhile- even I'm getting tired of it all!)
Over the last couple of years I have spoken with at least three people whom the Driscoll would consider close, personal friends. All have indicated to me that they were concerned about some of the things that came out of his mouth and that they had, on numerous occasions, expressed concern to him about his words and their impact.
I've also watched as slowly but surely, Mark has gotten somewhat more careful with his words. Though "limp-wristed homoevangelical" wasn't too awfully long ago, it seems to have been awhile since anything was labeled "faggoty" and that's progress no matter how you slice it.
But the recent fracas over comments on the Resurgence blog, the planned protest, the sit down between Mark and others, and Mark's subsequent statements have left me wondering- is Mark getting wiser... or just smarter?
I won't say why, but I have reason to believe, or maybe I should say reason to fear, the answer is "smarter."
So far, Mark has studiously avoided the language of apology, and while what he has said has been a step in the right direction, it should be noted that what might actually be happening is that Mark is getting smarter about what he says about people, but not necessarily wiser in what he thinks about people.
See- the difference between the two is that when I become wiser, I change. I know that my views themselves, how I think of others in particular, need some Holy Spirit re-adjustment. The level of charity with which I think of people needs to be increased. My feelings about others are subjected to the Word of God and adjusted accordingly.
When I become smarter, it's my words that change. Not necessesarily my views, but how I express them gets re-packaged. The level of charity with which I speak of people needs to be increased. My words get subjected to scrutiny and are adjusted accordingly...
But my heart- that's a different subject.
External pressure brings about external changes and while I may make concessions to alleviate the pressure, often, the end result is a hardening. I'm sure that I was right all along, and all the pressure I'm feeling convinces me of that. I'll adjust to get different results- but the adjustments remain surface...
Here's the thing- I don't think protest ever makes someone wiser. It simply makes them smarter. Protest may have the power to change the outside, but it can never change the inside. Sometimes protest is needed, and sometimes we need to start with changing the outside, particularly when someone reaches a place of harm coming to others...
But head-on external pressure absent loving relationship will simply make someone smarter about their sin. It won't change their heart.
Why am I thinking about all this? It's certainly bigger than Mark, and while I have reason to believe my 2 cents here is correct, I may be totally off base. Maybe real, internal work is being done and change is happening.
But for me, this issue also has play in other areas of my life...
My two and a half year old son, church discipline, work relationships, politics, my own life and the changes I want to see... Pressure can bring about desired external changes in any one of those areas.
But real change, real growth, real wisdom... that continues to be more elusive. That's a work of the Holy Spirit. I think He uses us... our prayer for others, our relationships with others... occasionally, even the head-on confrontations we need to do.
But those confrontations alone rarely (it seems to me) prove to bring about true change and wisdom. Too often, they serve only to make people smarter about how they do what it is they want to do...
(I'm still processing all this- so if you disagree with me, that's okay. Just realize these aren't finished thoughts by any stretch...)