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When faced with a decision whether to worship the true God or a counterfeit God, Daniel’s friends stood firm in worship of the true God. Even when it looked like the counterfeit God would win, the real God showed up in the middle of their trial and protected them. God can do the same for those today who put their trust and faith in Him despite the most desperate of circumstances.

Genesis 3:4-5 – But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. James 1:5-8 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Fear causes us to lose touch with reality. Like binoculars, fear becomes the lens through which we magnify and enlarge all the negative data we focus on in our lives. Eventually we start imagining things that aren’t real and let the fears drive us to a life of isolation and pointless worry. Fear causes us to seek to be God. The devil’s first temptation was for us to be like God. We become obsessed with information in an effort to be all-knowing like God and predict the future. We can also become obsessed with controlling the future to get the results we want and avoid the results we do not want rather than accepting God’s will for our lives. Fear robs us. Jesus spoke of the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Fear is a thief. Fear steals your joy, hope, and health. Fear kills your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Fear destroys your relationship with God, yourself, and others. Fear makes us double-minded and unstable. When God tells us to do something, we are to obey Him as an act of faith. However, when fear grips us, we are often torn between obeying the spirit of fear and obeying the Spirit of God. To order the new book from Pastor Mark & Grace Driscoll “Win Your War”, visit: https://amzn.to/2YuhoDn. For the entire eight-week “Win Your War” sermon series from Pastor Mark, visit www.markdriscoll.org or the Mark Driscoll Ministries app.

As we are winding down our study of Proverbs, it might interest you to know that most of the people reading these daily devotions read them on their way to work or at work. So, I thought some Proverbs for Christian workers would be fitting:  1. Be honest in your business dealings  Proverbs 11:1 – The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight. 2. Seek to do the best job you can  Proverbs 22:29 – Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men. 3. Maintain a good work ethic   Proverbs 12:24 – Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. 4. Know the difference between negotiating and scheming Proverbs 20:13 – "It's no good, it's no good!" says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase. 5. Honor those in authority over you  Proverbs 27:18 – He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored. 6. Make results instead of excuses  Proverbs 22:13 – The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside!" or "I will be murdered in the streets!" 7. Don’t trade short term pleasure for long term pain Proverbs 20:17 – Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel. Which of these speaks most loudly to you? Why?

Proverbs 3:9 – Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all... The Bible has a lot to say to and about “the rich”. Living amidst the greatest era of wealth and highest standard of living in world history, we can overlook the fact that, when compared to others, historically and globally, we are the rich. Most everyone who reads this daily devotion owns a car, lives in a safe and comfortable home with electricity, has a fridge with food, and a pantry with more food. Perhaps no one who reads this has a bucket that they use to go fetch water from to bring to their home. When the Bible asks to honor the Lord with our wealth, that includes the money we make, possessions we have, and the combined total of all resources under our oversight. How we spend our money and use our possessions reveals our heart. Here are three perspectives on possessions: 1. “What’s mine is mine” is selfish. Selfish people hoard what they have, have a miserly mindset, and are not generous in their giving and sharing of what they have. 2. “What’s yours is mine” leads to stealing. This mentality leads to a sense of entitlement where you are owed something and therefore can steal it, demand it, or pressure someone else to provide it. 3. “What’s mine is His” results in stewarding. Stewardship begins by seeing God as the owner of all things, and yourself as the manager. The result is a contentment and thankfulness for God’s provision and a willingness to give and share what God has given you with God and others. Which of these best describes you? If married, which best describes your spouse?

Galatians 6:7-10 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. When I was a kid, I will never forget the day that one of our teachers taught us about compound interest. They showed how if we would, starting at a young age, regularly set aside some money and invest it wisely, that we’d be rich when we were older. The law of sowing and reaping is a bit like that. In Galatians 6:7-10, Paul explains that deception is a very real possibility that God’s people must continually guard against because deception results in the mocking of God. People who are deceived commonly fail to live according to the principle of sowing and reaping that God has woven into creation. One of the basic truths of botany is that if you sow/plant a seed (i.e. an apple seed), in time you will reap/harvest a crop that corresponds with the seed that was sown (i.e. apples and not pumpkins). For a Christian, there are only two seeds that they can sow, namely the sinful passions and desires of the flesh, and the righteous passions and desires of the Spirit. As they continually sow either of these seeds, deception may set in because they do not see any immediate benefit for sowing from the Spirit, or any immediate judgment for sowing from the flesh. But, eventually a harvest of either life or death comes from the seed sown. The deception that sowing from the flesh does not cause a harvest of sin and death is commonly seen in the lives of people who are astonished when they awaken one day to see that sin has blossomed throughout their life. This is because they were not attentive to the law of sowing and reaping. Examples would include the nagging wives who are astonished when their husbands file for divorce, married men who flirt with other women and seem shocked that they ended up in an adulterous affair, gluttons who are astonished when they their doctor gives them their annual physical, drunkards who are astonished when they are fired from their jobs, etc. Anyone who evaluates how they sow their time, money, energy, and words each day is confronted with the fact that they are sowing from a source (God or sin) and reaping a harvest (life or death). But this simple fact is often overlooked because of the power of deception, particularly self-deception. Conversely, those who sow from the Spirit reap a great harvest of eternal life that is both a state of life (life with the eternal God), and a duration of life (without end). Examples would include the people who regularly repent of their sins to God and those they have offended to discover that over time some sins in their life have died altogether, those who regularly learn Scripture to discover that as they need wisdom God brings His Word to their remembrance to guide them, and those who have lovingly served people in the church to discover that in their time of need many friends rally to help them. Where might there be deception in your life regarding sowing from the flesh instead of the Spirit?

Galatians 6:1-5 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. When someone sins against us, it is common for us to want to beat them up in some way. We punish them with consequences, harsh words, letting the world know of their failure, and/or the silent treatment. Whatever the method, the motivation is the same – to beat you up in response to my feelings being hurt by you. This is giving law. Law beats people up. But, when we sin, we want people to understand our side of things, forgive us, move on, and not make us pay. For Christians, we are even prone to pull out all the Bible verses we can think of to remind that person that you don’t need to be punished because Jesus was already punished in your place for your sin. This is giving grace. Grace builds people up. When Jesus tell us to treat others as we want to be treated, He is saying what Galatians is echoing. This helps us to understand 3 kinds of relationships: 1. Law for one of us, grace for the other creates an abusive relationship 2. Law for both of us results in lots of critique and conflict 3. Grace for both of us is the kind of relationship that God blesses Which relationships do you have that fit in each category?

Galatians 5:7-10 – You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. Our world of tolerance and pride in all things has caused many people to forget the simple principle that to receive something means you must also reject something else. For example, for a marriage to receive fidelity it must reject adultery. Or, to receive Jesus you must reject trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation. Paul uses two analogies to illustrate this point. First, Christianity is supposed to be like a cross country team lead by Jesus. We are to follow Him, trusting that He knows the way to our heavenly home. Religious legalism is like someone cutting in front of you and pushing you off course so that you are no longer following Jesus. Second, a bit of legalism in a family or church family is like a bit of leaven that soon overtakes everything. Jesus also warned of legalisms from two religious groups in his day, saying in Matthew 16:11, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”. The problem with legalism is that it drowns grace. To illustrate this point, picture in your mind someone who is clearly drowning and needing to be rescued. So, a lifeguard jumps in to save them. The worst thing that could happen would be that the person drowning works against the lifeguard, which results in two deaths and no rescues. The best thing that could happen would be that the drowning person accepts their inability to rescue themselves and surrenders to the lifeguard who does all the work to save them. Human religious works and their man-made legalisms literally work against a gracious rescue from Jesus. Is there anything in your life that you need to surrender to God?

Galatians 1:11-12 – For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.For fun, I recently put the simple word “God” into a search engine. In the first page of results, I was given some articles by Christians, a link to a spoof Facebook page for God, an invitation to explore the Seventh Day Adventist Church (which probably has terrible church barbecues due to their forbidding of pork), and an ad for the old movie that Noah showed his kids on the ark – Oh, God!starring George Burns and John Denver. For anyone seeking to figure out who the real God is, it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed with all the opinions, philosophies, religions, and ideologies. Where should we start in the quest for our Creator? A man named Paul, one of the most towering thought leaders in world history, breaks it down to a very simple set of options. There is revelation from God that God creates. And, there is speculation from man that Satan counterfeits. Here’s the difference:RevelationFrom God – only God can truly reveal God. God knows God, and the only way anyone else can get to know God is if God introduces Himself.Based on Truth – God wants you to know who He is and how to get to know Him better.God’s Word to man – when God reveals, the direction is down – from Heaven to earth.Unchanging – because God doesn’t make mistakes, He got it right the first time and does not need to update His message to appease the marketing firm seeking to update His brand.  SpeculationFrom man – anyone can concoct any crazy concept of God, and it is doubtful that you could conceive of any strange idea about God that has not already been floated by someone else. Based on tradition – since we long for eternity, sometimes we settle for something old from the past hopelessly hoping it will suffice. This is how we get tradition. Man’s words about God – if you have ever seen someone angry and screaming at the sky then you understand philosophy.Always changing – just like a fake medication does not work, so a counterfeit gospel does not meet our deepest needs, so we keep prescribing more fakes to real faith. Is there any speculation that you have allowed you to disagree with God’s revelation? For example, is there a philosopher, critic, or mocker of Christianity that has gotten your head confused or your heart conflicted? 

I am not a big political person. Politics have never been how I seek positive change in culture, even as a pastor. I have never publicly endorsed any candidate or party. Among Christian leaders and ordinary churchgoers of my generation and younger, I am not alone in my attitude. That revelation might surprise the participants in our research, who resoundingly declared Christians too involved in politics. Throughout our research, we heard people who consistently took issue with Christians “legislating morality” and “imposing their views” through politics. Half of our national phone survey participants (49%) agreed with the statement, “I don’t like how some Christian groups meddle in politics.” Our survey found that men in particular deride Christian involvement in politics, a fact that proved true across our focus groups as well. Men had much more to say than women about their frustration and opposition to Christian involvement in politics. CHRISTENDOM AND CHRISTIANITY People outside the church are frustrated when people inside the church fail to see that there should be a clear division between the two. They feel that Christians are out of line when they treat the culture around them as if it were their church. Honestly, as a Bible-teaching pastor I agree to some degree. Some Christians are wrong in how they understand the relationship between church and society. Throughout the Bible a clear demarcation exists between God’s people and others. God repeatedly tells His followers that they cannot act like their neighbors—non-believers living among them and the culture around them. God has different expectations of His own. The Old Testament records recurring conversations between God and His people that sound like a dad whose children keep pestering him to get away with the same stuff as the neighbor kids. The dad tells them no, explaining that his family rules are different from the family rules next door. In the New Testament the words “church” and “world” mark this split between the two proverbial families. Sin means crossing that line of demarcation. Holiness means abiding by the rules on this side of the line. Some Christians seem to miss this. Across history and particularly in America, they see their nation as one big church, resulting in a thing called “Christendom.” My book A Call to Resurgence details this problem. Let me sum up what I say there. For starters, Christendom is not the same as Christianity. While Christianity has existed for a couple thousand years, Christendom popped into being around 500 years ago (the exact date varies depending on which historian you prefer). America was an experiment in Christendom. It was to be a nation established largely by Christian people with Christian principles pursuing Christian purposes. The line between church and the world soon became very blurry. America wasn’t the only place where this thing called Christendom took hold. But it led the nations in basing moral values on biblical principles, so that people more or less shared a common outlook on right and wrong even when they failed to live up to their ideals. Most everyone knew sex was reserved for marriage. Marriage was for a man and a woman. Pornography and casual sex were generally understood to be evil, even if many didn’t practice what they preached. And last but not least, children were viewed as a desirable part of life. All these basic mores and others were part of the common vision of the good life within a good nation that was as understood in Christendom. At the center of cultural influence within Christendom were religious leaders and houses of worship. They were essential to upholding the moral framework of a good nation. Politicians were expected to believe in God and attend church, and political speeches were supposed to be littered with the language and imagery of Scripture. Places of worship were given benefits such as tax exemptions as a way of recognizing their value to the greater culture in promoting virtue, restraining vice, and helping the needy. Despite the dividing line being blurred in the extreme, Christendom and Christianity are not the same thing. Christendom is far bigger and broader than Christianity, encompassing non-Christian beliefs like the deism of Thomas Jefferson, the Unitarianism of many high-level politicians, or the beliefs of outliers like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Under Christendom, America created a new national religion that took concepts and images from Old Testament Israel and reappropriated them. In A Call to Resurgence, I say it this way: Think of American civil religion in biblical terms: America is Israel. The Revolution is our Exodus. The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution compose our canon of sacred scripture. Abraham Lincoln is our Moses. Independence Day is our Easter. Our national enemies are our Satan. Benedict Arnold is our Judas. The Founding Fathers are our apostles. Taxes are our tithes. Patriotic songs are our hymnal. The Pledge of Allegiance is our sinner’s prayer. And the president is our preacher, which is why throughout the history of the office our leaders have referred to “God” without any definition or clarification, allowing people to privately import their own understanding of a higher power.6 In this blatant borrowing, the spiritual symbols were kept and the substance was lost. But it is no wonder people mistake Christendom for Christianity. Throughout some 500 years of history, Christendom and Christianity have been mutually opportunistic, each using the other to advance the cause. Christendom wanted the social benefits of Christianity without the scriptural beliefs. President George Washington said in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports...Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” A century and a half later, president-elect Dwight Eisenhower said, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”7 THE DEATH OF CHRISTENDOM When people care little about the content of faith, it should be no surprise when that faith becomes irrelevant to real life. Christendom as an all-powerful system has died over the course of just a few decades. Nations that were part of Christendom are now over a 500-year infatuation and are largely post-Christendom. The Bible is no longer a highly regarded book, a pastor no longer a highly regarded person, and the church no longer a highly regarded place. Major portions of our society have wildly different responses to this new civil order. THE REACTIONARY RIGHT People on the political right who claim to be Christians are gravely concerned about the direction culture is trending. Conservative Christians talk a lot about “taking back America,” with older voices appealing for a return to traditional values they claim led to a more sane and safe world. Their confusion of Christendom and Christianity means they interpret the decline of Christendom as a decline in Christianity, which may not in fact be the case. THE TRIUMPHANT LEFT Those on the political Left celebrate the demise of Christendom. They gladly spotlight its failures. They rightly remind us of the rampant unkindness of Christendom toward gays, women, ethnic minorities, and the poor, with whole groups marginalized, ostracized, and demonized in the name of a greater social good. They note the astounding hypocrisy bred by social demands to put up a good public appearance, even if privately you are a politician committing adultery on your way home from church. They are quick to protest the injustice, oppression, and evil that results when the powerful forces of government and religion line up together like two barrels on a gun. For the powerless, the end of Christendom brings an exodus from cruel bondage into a freedom they have never known. THE CONFOUNDED CENTER In the middle on a continuum between the Right and the Left you’ll find many an average Christian person or pastor. They’re weary of both sides spending endless hours berating each other on television and talk radio. Whether you locate yourself on the political Right, Left, or in the middle, Jesus calls you to something more. If He were retelling His ancient parable of a couple lost sons today, the rebellious brother would lean politically Left. The religious brother would lean politically Right. The younger brother would march in a pride parade or a protest. The older brother would picket those parades and protest the protests. But notice this: Jesus doesn’t join either brother on the Right or the Left. He also doesn’t join the masses trying to duck the issues in the middle. Jesus is greater than politics. When the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate asked if He had revolutionary aspirations, Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36 NIV). Jesus the King rules over all kings, and His Kingdom reigns over all kingdoms. But the Kingdom of King Jesus has not yet come in its fullness, and until we see it we are to pray as He taught us: “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10). When the Kingdom of Jesus arrives, sin will be replaced with salvation, death with resurrection, sickness with healing, war with peace, poverty with prosperity, and tears with laughter. From the first day we meet Jesus our citizenship in His Kingdom is secure, but until we arrive in heaven we are stuck here. But that doesn’t mean you’re not meant to be here. Every election cycle we feel a collective ache for Christ’s Kingdom to come. Our world has gone terribly wrong, and everything needs changing. So political candidates step forward to vie for the role of savior, each casting a vision of the heavenly future they promise to bring. Like worshipers, supporters throng to fund campaigns, filled with hope that things will improve if only the right person wins. Now, some kings are better than others. That’s just common sense. But no king is the King of Kings, because no human king rules with Christ’s perfection, justice, truth, and grace. Some kingdoms are better than others, but no kingdom is His Kingdom. No kingdom overcomes sin and the curse fully and forever. Only the Kingdom of King Jesus accomplishes what we—and every person we disagree with—ultimately longs for and needs. 6.Mark Driscoll, A Call to Resurgence (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 11–12. 7.Patrick Henry, “‘And I Don’t Care What It Is’: The Tradition-History of a Civil Religion Proof-Text,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 49, issue 1 (March 1981): 41.

I am not a big political person. Politics have never been how I seek positive change in culture, even as a pastor. I have never publicly endorsed any candidate or party. Among Christian leaders and ordinary churchgoers of my generation and younger, I am not alone in my attitude. That revelation might surprise the participants in our research, who resoundingly declared Christians too involved in politics. Throughout our research, we heard people who consistently took issue with Christians “legislating morality” and “imposing their views” through politics. Half of our national phone survey participants (49%) agreed with the statement, “I don’t like how some Christian groups meddle in politics.” Our survey found that men in particular deride Christian involvement in politics, a fact that proved true across our focus groups as well. Men had much more to say than women about their frustration and opposition to Christian involvement in politics. CHRISTENDOM AND CHRISTIANITY People outside the church are frustrated when people inside the church fail to see that there should be a clear division between the two. They feel that Christians are out of line when they treat the culture around them as if it were their church. Honestly, as a Bible-teaching pastor I agree to some degree. Some Christians are wrong in how they understand the relationship between church and society. Throughout the Bible a clear demarcation exists between God’s people and others. God repeatedly tells His followers that they cannot act like their neighbors—non-believers living among them and the culture around them. God has different expectations of His own. The Old Testament records recurring conversations between God and His people that sound like a dad whose children keep pestering him to get away with the same stuff as the neighbor kids. The dad tells them no, explaining that his family rules are different from the family rules next door. In the New Testament the words “church” and “world” mark this split between the two proverbial families. Sin means crossing that line of demarcation. Holiness means abiding by the rules on this side of the line. Some Christians seem to miss this. Across history and particularly in America, they see their nation as one big church, resulting in a thing called “Christendom.” My book A Call to Resurgence details this problem. Let me sum up what I say there. For starters, Christendom is not the same as Christianity. While Christianity has existed for a couple thousand years, Christendom popped into being around 500 years ago (the exact date varies depending on which historian you prefer). America was an experiment in Christendom. It was to be a nation established largely by Christian people with Christian principles pursuing Christian purposes. The line between church and the world soon became very blurry. America wasn’t the only place where this thing called Christendom took hold. But it led the nations in basing moral values on biblical principles, so that people more or less shared a common outlook on right and wrong even when they failed to live up to their ideals. Most everyone knew sex was reserved for marriage. Marriage was for a man and a woman. Pornography and casual sex were generally understood to be evil, even if many didn’t practice what they preached. And last but not least, children were viewed as a desirable part of life. All these basic mores and others were part of the common vision of the good life within a good nation that was as understood in Christendom. At the center of cultural influence within Christendom were religious leaders and houses of worship. They were essential to upholding the moral framework of a good nation. Politicians were expected to believe in God and attend church, and political speeches were supposed to be littered with the language and imagery of Scripture. Places of worship were given benefits such as tax exemptions as a way of recognizing their value to the greater culture in promoting virtue, restraining vice, and helping the needy. Despite the dividing line being blurred in the extreme, Christendom and Christianity are not the same thing. Christendom is far bigger and broader than Christianity, encompassing non-Christian beliefs like the deism of Thomas Jefferson, the Unitarianism of many high-level politicians, or the beliefs of outliers like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Under Christendom, America created a new national religion that took concepts and images from Old Testament Israel and reappropriated them. In A Call to Resurgence, I say it this way: Think of American civil religion in biblical terms: America is Israel. The Revolution is our Exodus. The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution compose our canon of sacred scripture. Abraham Lincoln is our Moses. Independence Day is our Easter. Our national enemies are our Satan. Benedict Arnold is our Judas. The Founding Fathers are our apostles. Taxes are our tithes. Patriotic songs are our hymnal. The Pledge of Allegiance is our sinner’s prayer. And the president is our preacher, which is why throughout the history of the office our leaders have referred to “God” without any definition or clarification, allowing people to privately import their own understanding of a higher power.6 In this blatant borrowing, the spiritual symbols were kept and the substance was lost. But it is no wonder people mistake Christendom for Christianity. Throughout some 500 years of history, Christendom and Christianity have been mutually opportunistic, each using the other to advance the cause. Christendom wanted the social benefits of Christianity without the scriptural beliefs. President George Washington said in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports...Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” A century and a half later, president-elect Dwight Eisenhower said, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”7 THE DEATH OF CHRISTENDOM When people care little about the content of faith, it should be no surprise when that faith becomes irrelevant to real life. Christendom as an all-powerful system has died over the course of just a few decades. Nations that were part of Christendom are now over a 500-year infatuation and are largely post-Christendom. The Bible is no longer a highly regarded book, a pastor no longer a highly regarded person, and the church no longer a highly regarded place. Major portions of our society have wildly different responses to this new civil order. THE REACTIONARY RIGHT People on the political right who claim to be Christians are gravely concerned about the direction culture is trending. Conservative Christians talk a lot about “taking back America,” with older voices appealing for a return to traditional values they claim led to a more sane and safe world. Their confusion of Christendom and Christianity means they interpret the decline of Christendom as a decline in Christianity, which may not in fact be the case. THE TRIUMPHANT LEFT Those on the political Left celebrate the demise of Christendom. They gladly spotlight its failures. They rightly remind us of the rampant unkindness of Christendom toward gays, women, ethnic minorities, and the poor, with whole groups marginalized, ostracized, and demonized in the name of a greater social good. They note the astounding hypocrisy bred by social demands to put up a good public appearance, even if privately you are a politician committing adultery on your way home from church. They are quick to protest the injustice, oppression, and evil that results when the powerful forces of government and religion line up together like two barrels on a gun. For the powerless, the end of Christendom brings an exodus from cruel bondage into a freedom they have never known. THE CONFOUNDED CENTER In the middle on a continuum between the Right and the Left you’ll find many an average Christian person or pastor. They’re weary of both sides spending endless hours berating each other on television and talk radio. Whether you locate yourself on the political Right, Left, or in the middle, Jesus calls you to something more. If He were retelling His ancient parable of a couple lost sons today, the rebellious brother would lean politically Left. The religious brother would lean politically Right. The younger brother would march in a pride parade or a protest. The older brother would picket those parades and protest the protests. But notice this: Jesus doesn’t join either brother on the Right or the Left. He also doesn’t join the masses trying to duck the issues in the middle. Jesus is greater than politics. When the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate asked if He had revolutionary aspirations, Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36 NIV). Jesus the King rules over all kings, and His Kingdom reigns over all kingdoms. But the Kingdom of King Jesus has not yet come in its fullness, and until we see it we are to pray as He taught us: “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10). When the Kingdom of Jesus arrives, sin will be replaced with salvation, death with resurrection, sickness with healing, war with peace, poverty with prosperity, and tears with laughter. From the first day we meet Jesus our citizenship in His Kingdom is secure, but until we arrive in heaven we are stuck here. But that doesn’t mean you’re not meant to be here. Every election cycle we feel a collective ache for Christ’s Kingdom to come. Our world has gone terribly wrong, and everything needs changing. So political candidates step forward to vie for the role of savior, each casting a vision of the heavenly future they promise to bring. Like worshipers, supporters throng to fund campaigns, filled with hope that things will improve if only the right person wins. Now, some kings are better than others. That’s just common sense. But no king is the King of Kings, because no human king rules with Christ’s perfection, justice, truth, and grace. Some kingdoms are better than others, but no kingdom is His Kingdom. No kingdom overcomes sin and the curse fully and forever. Only the Kingdom of King Jesus accomplishes what we—and every person we disagree with—ultimately longs for and needs. 6.Mark Driscoll, A Call to Resurgence (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 11–12. 7.Patrick Henry, “‘And I Don’t Care What It Is’: The Tradition-History of a Civil Religion Proof-Text,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 49, issue 1 (March 1981): 41.

People outside the church are frustrated when people inside the church fail to see that there should be a clear division between the two. They feel that Christians are out of line when they treat the culture around them as if it were their church. Honestly, as a Bible-teaching pastor, I agree to some degree. Some Christians are wrong in how they understand the relationship between church and society. Throughout the Bible a clear demarcation exists between God’s people and others. God repeatedly tells His followers that they cannot act like their neighbors—non-believers living among them and the culture around them. God has different expectations of His own. The Old Testament records recurring conversations between God and His people that sound like a dad whose children keep pestering him to get away with the same stuff as the neighbor kids. The dad tells them no, explaining that his family rules are different from the family rules next door. In the New Testament the words “church” and “world” mark this split between the two proverbial families. Sin means crossing that line of demarcation. Holiness means abiding by the rules on this side of the line. Some Christians seem to miss this. Across history and particularly in America, they see their nation as one big church, resulting in a thing called “Christendom.” My book A Call to Resurgence details this problem. Let me sum up what I say there. For starters, Christendom is not the same as Christianity. While Christianity has existed for a couple thousand years, Christendom popped into being around 500 years ago (the exact date varies depending on which historian you prefer). America was an experiment in Christendom. It was to be a nation established largely by Christian people with Christian principles pursuing Christian purposes. The line between church and the world soon became very blurry. America wasn’t the only place where this thing called Christendom took hold. But it led the nations in basing moral values on biblical principles so that people more or less shared a common outlook on right and wrong even when they failed to live up to their ideals. Most everyone knew sex was reserved for marriage. Marriage was for a man and a woman. Pornography and casual sex were generally understood to be evil, even if many didn’t practice what they preached. And last but not least, children were viewed as a desirable part of life. All these basic mores and others were part of the common vision of the good life within a good nation that was as understood in Christendom. At the center of cultural influence within Christendom were religious leaders and houses of worship. They were essential to upholding the moral framework of a good nation. Politicians were expected to believe in God and attend church, and political speeches were supposed to be littered with the language and imagery of Scripture. Places of worship were given benefits such as tax exemptions as a way of recognizing their value to the greater culture in promoting virtue, restraining vice, and helping the needy. Despite the dividing line being blurred in the extreme, Christendom and Christianity are not the same thing. Christendom is far bigger and broader than Christianity, encompassing non-Christian beliefs like the deism of Thomas Jefferson, the Unitarianism of many high-level politicians, or the beliefs of outliers like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Under Christendom, America created a new national religion that took concepts and images from Old Testament Israel and reappropriated them. In A Call to Resurgence, I say it this way: Think of American civil religion in biblical terms: America is Israel. The Revolution is our Exodus. The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution compose our canon of sacred scripture. Abraham Lincoln is our Moses. Independence Day is our Easter. Our national enemies are our Satan. Benedict Arnold is our Judas. The Founding Fathers are our apostles. Taxes are our tithes. Patriotic songs are our hymnal. The Pledge of Allegiance is our sinner’s prayer. And the president is our preacher, which is why throughout the history of the office our leaders have referred to “God” without any definition or clarification, allowing people to privately import their own understanding of a higher power.1 In this blatant borrowing, the spiritual symbols were kept and the substance was lost. But it is no wonder people mistake Christendom for Christianity.  Throughout some 500 years of history, Christendom and Christianity have been mutually opportunistic, each using the other to advance the cause. Christendom wanted the social benefits of Christianity without the scriptural beliefs. President George Washington said in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports... Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” A century and a half later, president-elect Dwight Eisenhower said, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.” 2 THE DEATH OF CHRISTENDOM When people care little about the content of faith, it should be no surprise when that faith becomes irrelevant to real life. Christendom as an all- powerful system has died over the course of just a few decades. Nations that were part of Christendom are now over a 500-year infatuation and are largely post-Christendom. The Bible is no longer a highly regarded book, a pastor no longer a highly regarded person, and the church no longer a highly regarded place. Mark Driscoll, A Call to Resurgence (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 11–12. Patrick Henry, “‘And I Don’t Care What It Is’: The Tradition-History of a Civil Religion Proof-Text,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 49, issue 1 (March 1981): 41.