“What happened to Mark?” asks one of the bewildered purple-haired saints.
Two years ago Podunk Baptist Church sent a bright, energetic, and humble young man off to the seminary. This little gathering of believers has for over two-centuries housed some of the dearest saints. But Mark was different. Though young and a relatively new believer he stood out because of his marked brilliance, passion, and dedication.
Tears of joy mixed with sadness now watered the out-dated carpet, as Mark was sent off to learn how to be a pastor. Most of the members could still remember that cold September morning when a weird looking kid named Mark had “came forward” as an expression of his new found faith in Jesus. Within a short time these same folk—sitting in their same pews—had affirmed Mark’s call into the gospel ministry.
Seminary was the next logical step. The people at Podunk Baptist assumed that within a few short years they would be visiting Mark at the latest Gospel Conference. (That is if he could maybe spot the pastor and a few congregants some tickets).
Time went by and Podunk Baptist heard less and less of Mark. Finally, two long years later Mark accepts an invitation to come back to Podunk to preach a revival. The community is buzzing, in a way that only a small-town can buzz. Even people that darken the door of the church only on Santa’s birthday are considering coming to see if this kid’s fancy book learnin’ may have a remedy for their hurt.
The church rolls out the red-carpet. (Or rather the darkened mats they bought at Wal-Mart to cover the embarrassing rips created by Deacon Cary’s now infamous communion table moving incident.) These dear saints want to treat their shining star like he deserves. They are certain to be blessed and encouraged in their walk with the Lord. The ladies plan one of their famous pot-lucks. The men shave.
Anticipation causes the week since Mark’s acceptance of their invitation to feel almost as long as his two-year absence. If Mark was this smart, this passionate, and this dedicated two years ago what would he be like now that he has spent two years learning from the finest theologians in the world?
Finally the day arrives. Mark is running a little late, but that’s to be expected by such an important young man. He has little time to chat before the service. It’s go time.
Mark is introduced by the pastor; still the same guy that had shared the gospel with him years ago. After the glowing introduction the now-bearded Mark (the use of some potent a beard oil is suspected) swags into the pulpit. It only takes a few sentences for Podunk Baptist to realize this is a different Mark than the one they sent away.
And it’s not good.
This revival will not be about the beauties and excellencies of Jesus. It will not be a passionate gospel exposition. This revival meeting will be five nights of Mark setting his old church straight. Each night he will put together a finely crafted sermon filled with three points addressing everything that the church erroneously taught him two years ago. Mark is in the “know” now.
What happened to Mark?
UPDATE: For our discussion we will be tackling the problem of angry and divisive Calvinists, but truth be told we can make Mark’s sermon topics whatever you desire. In our day and age many may be tempted to drop the C word (Calvinism) as one of those topics bearded Mark picks up. 300 years ago it may have been Arminianism. It doesn’t matter what topic you pick because the problem isn’t as much Mark’s sermon topics as it is a much greater issue. A bigger issue that has replayed itself within different circumstances for centuries.