Prince or Prizefighter
“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
Over 12,000 people attended church services during the Mars Hill heyday. The church had exploded well beyond its origin in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It boasted more multiple sites across several states. What drew many to the church was the fiery preaching of the founding pastor. Much of his message, or at least the tone of his message, was a reaction to the religious landscape he perceived in Seattle.
He said churches (like the one I pastored in Seattle), “recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in his hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes.”
Instead he preached a much different view of Christ saying “Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.”
This is the very definition of a “hot take.” His brash sermons brought in a lot of people who, if nothing else, were curious about what wild thing he would say next.
Yet, unfortunately, it was more than just a marketing strategy. In 2014 dozens of staff and members of Mars Hill brought accusations of abuse of power against the founding pastor.
The vision of a god who uses power to dominate has always appealed to humanity. Throughout history, we’ve crafted images of deities with the power to destroy their enemies and eviscerate their challengers. Yet this is not the way of Christ. The strength of Christ was not revealed in fire and wrath but in compassion and vulnerability.
Christ ushers in peace not by putting his enemies under his heel. Christ creates peace through patience, forgiveness, and love. There is nothing weak about these values.
Through his life and death Christ modeled what it means to love your enemy. And the Prince of Peace continues to model that kind of love today.