Matt Rogers is a volunteer pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue. Bellevue is where the ex-member demonstration was held on Sunday morning. I have obtained a copy of a response to the demonstration which is attributed to Rev. Rogers and posted on The City, Mars Hill’s private church discussion and media center. Other than the title, I am going to post this reply without comment. I am interested to hear reader reactions.
From Pastor Matt Rogers:
This past Sunday outside our building about 60 professing Christians led a protest, left a bit of trash, and slandered good men. Inside the building our church family worshipped Jesus. Let that image be what defines us. Others will cast aspersions, but we will worship Jesus.
We cannot let fear rule our church. We must choose love. Choosing fear would lead us to attack those who are attacking us. Instead we will choose to love them by praying for them. Choosing fear will drive us to anger and bitterness which will spill out in how we talk about them, engage with them and eventually even with each other. Choosing love will be our witness to all the outsiders watching us right now that we forgive just as God in Christ forgave us. By refusing to give into fear we will commend Christ to our city.
Choosing fear shapes how we interact with each other as well. Choosing fear leads to second guessing and distrusting the statements of our leaders. Choosing fear leads to not standing up for the truth and the honor of good men because of what might come our way. Choosing love will enable us to show grace toward one another, to trust the Spirit at work in one another, and encourage each other to do the same.
Trust is a choice. At some point you simply have to choose to trust someone or not trust them. Extending trust to another Christian is trusting the Holy Spirit at work in them. Trusting a fellow Christian means that when there is sin the Spirit will bring repentance. Trusting a fellow Christian means trusting that they will be more like Jesus tomorrow than they are today. I don’t want to live with a heart filled with cynicism and fear. I simply don’t know how to love others when my heart filled with cynicism and fear.
As elders we should have done more to communicate with you. By not saying more clearly that much of what you read online is slander, half-truths and gossip we left you in a place of wondering what is true. When this recent storm began a few months ago I looked into all of it because I had a responsibility to as an elder. What I have consistently seen is a pattern of repentance when sin was present, growth when errors were made, and patience when the accusations were false.
Let me say very clearly that Pastor Mark, Pastor Dave and Pastor Sutton are honorable and trustworthy men. I count it a privilege to serve with them not because I have anything to gain, simply because it is true.
I am asking all of us to choose to live in a way that is joyful and trusting vs cynical and fearful.
Meanwhile, others will remind us of our sin, but we will worship the Savior who died for our sins. Others will try to turn us against one other, but we will worship Jesus who gave His life so we could be one with Him. Others will try to keep us living in a past from which we have repented and changed, but we will worship Jesus who makes it possible for us to have a new beginning.