Catalyst 2011 Mark Driscoll
God meets our fears with a gospel invitation: Fear not for I am with you.

Now I know why people enjoy listening to Mark Driscoll. He's engaging, funny, provocative, pastoral, and so darn interesting. Here are a few of his best one-liners:

•"Some people deal with fear by reading books on the rapture and continually asking, ‘Are we freakin' done yet?' No, we're going to be here for a while, so put a cup on, kid."

•"The New York Yankees lost last night [in a playoff game against the Detroit Tigers] which proves two things: God is sovereign and he loves us."

•"You don't have to fear death because when we die we're going to be with Jesus. So is death really that bad? It's not like we'll die and go to Detroit." After a smattering of boos, Driscoll said, "Hey, I don't write the mail; I just deliver it. There's a reason why we're not having this conference in Detroit."

You can either love or hate the guy, but he'll never bore you.

As a preacher, Driscoll is simple, clear, and utterly gospel-centered. He started with a human problem: we're afraid. Then he relentlessly exposed the idolatry underneath our fear. The real question for leaders to ask is not "What are you afraid of?" but "Who are you afraid of?" Then he offered the following diagnostic questions for every leader:

1. Whose opinion matters way too much to you?

2. Is my appetite for praise unhealthy?

3. Am I overly devastated by criticism?

Whenever we lead with fear we allow other people to become our functional god. We live under their sovereign rule. We are holding that person in awe, and by fearing them we cannot love them. When we live with fear we have vision without hope. We see the future, but God isn't in it.

But here's what I loved about Driscoll's message: he didn't just preach Law—as in, just stop being afraid. Instead, he preached the gospel.

The good news isn't just a law or good advice; it's Jesus. All throughout the Bible, God says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." It's not about facing our fear; it's about being with the God who keeps saying, "I am with you." And he keeps saying it to us because he's gracious and we keep forgetting.

Don't you love that about God? He ruthlessly exposes our fears so he can offer us true healing.