Search

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience...” - Colossians 3:12 My goal in this Christians Might Be Crazy project is to help you lovingly communicate why Christianity is both true and good, offering help in responding to objections raised by people who are made and loved by God. But I don’t want us to lose sight of the real people from our study who inform our conversation— because they reject the thoughts and feelings of the world you and I must engage: your co-workers, your neighbors, your in-laws, and your community. Several focus group participants expressed great negative emotion toward Christianity, like the Phoenix man who said, “I had a friend that actually got born again and evangelical, and it broke my heart.” But it is perhaps the story of a lesbian woman from Austin that best displays the deep pain behind some of the objections we hear to the Christian faith. She explained that her problems were not theoretical or historical. “It’s very emotional for me,” she said. “I lump all religious people of any kind together.... I probably do stay away from them because of my experiences.... I have a negative association with even the word God. I don’t even care for that.... I’ve had many negative experiences with religious people, but one person in particular, and it’s very vivid in my mind.” And then this woman told her story: “When I was about 14, I was walking down the street with my girlfriend, holding hands. We stopped and sat down on a curb. We were having a discussion.... I had a really tough upbringing. Some lady came around the corner in a Suburban and was screaming out of her window, ‘You’re going to hell,’ and cursing at us every profanity and got about two inches from us in her Suburban and tried to run me over. ‘F–you’ and ‘You’re disgusting,’ and all these things. ‘You’re going to hell.’” She continued sharing with a mixture of fear and graciousness: “I realize it’s a very dramatic example. I feel like even on a much smaller level that most religious people have those thoughts even if they don’t act on them to that extreme. That’s just one example.... My family is all very religious. They think I’m the one who has gone astray, and they keep telling me I’m going to be saved one day. The clouds are going to open up, and I’m going to and my true self. Honestly I will. I appreciate whenever they tell me, ‘I’m praying for you.’ I say, ‘Thank you very much. I need all the prayers I can get.’ I don’t know that I believe in all of that, but it couldn’t hurt.” Most people would agree that her encounter with a hateful SUV-driving Christian was extreme. But her painful story lets us see beyond our own assumptions into a world where religious people are considered anything but safe. BAD CHRISTIAN PARENTS After the focus groups were complete, I spoke with the facilitator, Susan Saurage-Altenloh. I wanted to hear her personal insights on the project. When I asked if anything surprised her, she replied that she was taken aback by the impact of parents on participants’ religious views and feelings. The habits they set in the home deeply and often negatively impacted their children as they grew into adulthood and started having kids of their own. “I wanted to go back and talk to an awful lot of mothers and fathers,” she said. The men and women she talked with “were individuals who were formerly engaged in a relationship with their church or their faith and who had turned away. They might still maintain a spiritual component in their worldview— even appreciating or respecting spiritual considerations—but they have turned away or never been involved with the church because they’re fighting a lot of bad experiences.” If you’re a Christian reading this, these realizations should make you more compassionate and understanding toward people who display strong and even emotional opposition to Christianity. For some, past experiences have so hurt them that they see the Christian faith as something unhealthy, unwanted, and even evil. As you begin to understand the passion with which some people hold negative views about Christians and Christianity, I invite you to see them through God’s eyes and consider some of the hurt behind their remarks so you can learn to listen differently. People who have had painful experiences with religion tend to engage on an emotional level, and their pain makes their beliefs highly compelling. Christians who lack firsthand experience of those hurts tend to engage on a philosophical and theoretical level. That doesn’t make their responses untrue, but it often makes them unhelpful because they’re received as devoid of compassion, grace, and love. Worse yet is for a Christian to respond to someone’s objections with anger or offense. That only reinforces a person’s fear and pain. I can tell you that I have been guilty of that, and God has used Susan’s insight to convict me of that in my own Christian witness. Our goal should be to serve, engage, and endure with the valuable people God has created, meeting their intensity with love. Because you and I both know that God does that with us. One final remark about this project from a personal perspective: It has been a labor of love amid the demands of being a husband, father, and pastor. But, I believe it was critical, because I have a lot to learn on how to better speak to the real issues of people’s lives and how to help other believers do the same. The questions that drove apologetics in the last century occupy fewer and fewer minds and hearts. If we are answering questions that people are no longer asking, we are wasting time. We are on mission. We need to come to grips with the fact that we have lost many of the battles of the culture wars. But that’s not a reflection of the power of the Gospel. It’s a call to go back to the heart of Christ and reengage our culture with our feet firmly planted in His grace and truth. Learning how we can better be loving messengers of biblical Christianity is the task before us—and it has eternal implications. The answer isn’t thinking that we have to edit God’s Word in order to truly love people. God commissioned Christians to be His messengers, not His editors. And it’s time for us to start spreading the true and life-giving message of His Word and leave the results in His hands. WHAT ABOUT YOU? So, what are you going to do now? Our research and my own experience show that the Unchurched and Dechurched have serious and personal problems with Christianity. They certainly take issue with Christians. But they do often have the same hang-ups about Christ. We can get dragged into all kinds of arguments that do not help them interact with Jesus. We can expend all kinds of o -topic energy and still not compel them to consider Jesus. So it is crucial that we distinguish between Christianity and Christians on one hand and Christ on the other. They are not the same thing, and we cannot expect the people we meet to have a firm grasp on any of them. Finally, I’ve undertaken this with the expectation that many readers will be Christians trying to navigate how to live out their faith in a culture that mistrusts and even maligns biblical Christianity. But that doesn’t exclude other readers who might be coming from a different place. As you read this you might be: If you fall into one of those groups that take issue with Christians and Christianity, I hope you’ve seen by now that my heart is not to attack you or bully you into belief. My hope for you is that you’ll see through the caricature of Christianity through some honest conversations and encounter Jesus Himself. a person who is Unchurched or Dechurched a Christian with a foot (maybe even two feet) out the door a Christian who feels overwhelmed by the objections to your faith and unsure how to respond a ministry leader trying to provide helpful answers to real people a parent or friend concerned for loved ones and wanting to get a resource like this project and book into their hands This series of 30 daily devotions are adapted from the first chapters of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s new book "Christians Might Be Crazy" available exclusively at markdriscoll.org for a tax-deductible gift to Mark Driscoll Ministries. For your gift of any amount, we will email you a digital copy of the book (available worldwide) and also send you a paperback copy of the book (U.S. residents only). Pastor Mark also has a corresponding six-part sermon series that you can find for free at markdriscoll.org or on the free Mark Driscoll Ministries app. Thank you in advance for your partnership which helps people learn that It’s All About Jesus! For our monthly partners who give a recurring gift each month, this premium content will be automatically sent.

But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will receive from Me and will declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine. Therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and will declare it to you. - John 16:13-15 MEV. As Christian leaders and counselors from a range of backgrounds ministered to us, the variety of what they taught us thoroughly blessed us. I believe this has ignited a new understanding on how to best help people, gleaning from all that the Holy Spirit says in the Bible without being limited to one tradition and its emphasis on one paradigm for helping people. We came to appreciate each approach and grieve the pride and cynicism that often divides these biblical insights into warring camps. To be truly helpful we need to be deeply Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit knows exactly how someone is suffering and what the solution is. Every honest pastor and Christian leader reaches a point where they realize the same truths taught in the same way bring the same incomplete results. Who in your immediate world would bring a new biblical perspective to your struggles as a follower of Jesus? There’s a good chance you stand on one side of various theological, methodological, and relational divides, and the help you need is right on the other side. Ask people who aren’t in your tribe for practical wisdom drawn from real ministry. Invite them to tell you their case histories of real change. Let them enthusiastically draw out their biblical emphasis and challenge yours. Why? Because every problem you face isn’t a nail, and every solution doesn’t require a hammer. When you suffer, it is essential to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you why you are suffering and how you can be growing. Your suffering is so expensive that you should not waste it on sin, folly, or rebellion. Instead, you would be better served to invest it by reflecting on Jesus’ suffering for you so that you can become more like Him. But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will receive from Me and will declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine. Therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and will declare it to you. - John 16:13-15 MEV. As Christian leaders and counselors from a range of backgrounds ministered to us, the variety of what they taught us thoroughly blessed us. I believe this has ignited a new understanding on how to best help people, gleaning from all that the Holy Spirit says in the Bible without being limited to one tradition and its emphasis on one paradigm for helping people. We came to appreciate each approach and grieve the pride and cynicism that often divides these biblical insights into warring camps. To be truly helpful we need to be deeply Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit knows exactly how someone is suffering and what the solution is. Every honest pastor and Christian leader reaches a point where they realize the same truths taught in the same way bring the same incomplete results. Who in your immediate world would bring a new biblical perspective to your struggles as a follower of Jesus? There’s a good chance you stand on one side of various theological, methodological, and relational divides, and the help you need is right on the other side. Ask people who aren’t in your tribe for practical wisdom drawn from real ministry. Invite them to tell you their case histories of real change. Let them enthusiastically draw out their biblical emphasis and challenge yours. Why? Because every problem you face isn’t a nail, and every solution doesn’t require a hammer. When you suffer, it is essential to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you why you are suffering and how you can be growing. Your suffering is so expensive that you should not waste it on sin, folly, or rebellion. Instead, you would be better served to invest it by reflecting on Jesus’ suffering for you so that you can become more like Him. I admit that at times I have wished there were another way. I wish we could go online and shop for character, punch in our credit card information, and have it delivered to our house along with the rest of our Amazon order. But that is not how the Christian life works. When Jesus says to pick up our cross and follow Him, He is inviting us to suffer with our Savior so that we can become like our Savior. Often our healing from suffering begins by forgiving those who hurt us.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:25-28 MEV. I remember a stormy season of life when I realized I’m guilty of one of Western culture’s most unhelpful habits: celebrating victories publicly and mourning defeats privately. This results in very few of us knowing how to lament. We isolate ourselves when we hurt the most, whereas Bible guys, including fierce warriors like David, knew how to lament like men. Here are some benefits of God-centered, tear-soaked, Spirit-filled, Bible-based, gut-level lamenting. When you lament, you allow yourself to feel.Numbing yourself to the hurt means you stop feeling everything else in life. Lamenting helps you feel life’s full range of normal emotions. When you lament, you process pain.Lamenting helps you work through your heartaches. You have to feel so you can heal. When you lament, you grieve your involvement and shed your victim mind-set. Lamenting allows you to evaluate what you have done, where you must change, and how you can act differently in the future. When you lament, you don’t lash out in vengeance at others. Lamenting helps you work out with God the energy and frustration that naturally comes from pain. When you lament, you empathize with others who are hurting. After you have lamented your pain with the Lord and experienced healing in your soul, you can invite people who have experienced similar pains to share those with you. When you lament, you feel hope for the future. Failing to lament leaves you forever circling the drain of the past, never escaping the toxicity that surrounds. Lamenting allows you to look up from your tears to see what God might have on the horizon. When you lament, you escape anger and depression. Some people stuck in a spiral of grief are prone to depression. Lamenting allows you to avoid depression—as well as depression masked by anger. How did Jesus deal with His suffering? By Spirit-led lamenting. Isaiah 53:3 calls Him our “suffering servant” (NASB) a “man of sorrows,” and “acquainted with grief.” Emotional and tear-filled New Testament scenes let us see the Lord Jesus weep over Jerusalem, mourn the death of His dear friend Lazarus, and agonize on the cross. Jesus worked through His suffering by lamenting, and He helps us do the same.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and so we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also boast in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. - Romans 5:1-5 MEV. If you have ever flown on an airplane, you have likely heard the safety speech given at the beginning of the flight. The crew always tells you that in case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop. The attendant tells you to put your own mask on first before you assist anyone else. Life is like a flight. Jesus is our captain. Our relationship with Him is our proverbial oxygen mask. On Jesus Airlines, when the storms hit and lightning strikes, there will be times of turbulence until we land in His kingdom. When these times occur, we need to get our proverbial oxygen mask on first. We need to live in the healthy, life-giving power of God’s love before we can be helpful to those around us. Jesus talks about this in Mark 12:28–31, saying that we need to love God first and love our neighbor second. Christianity is about many things, but one of the most important things is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 Paul says that the greatest thing in all the world is love.Love is sometimes what you feel, sometimes what you say, but always what you do. Ultimately love shows forth in action. True love unselfishly acts in the best interest of the beloved. This results in acts of service and sacrifice, much like Jesus Christ who served by sacrificing His own life as the greatest act of love the world will ever know. How do we access the love of God? We obtain the love of God by the Spirit of God. The Bible teaches this in Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” When God the Holy Spirit rains His love down on you, it cools down and refreshes, washes away filth, and brings beautiful life. You need God’s love because without it, you wither and die in a desert. Furthermore, the people in your family and life need God’s love to flow through you to them. When you are filled with the Spirit, God’s love begins to transform you into a loving person. In this way, God’s love flows down on you, wells up in you, and then flows through you to others.

John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” In vine tending there are only two kinds of branches. Those that bear fruit are tended to and cared for. Those that do not bear fruit are simply thrown into a fire and burned since the wood is too soft to be used for anything profitable (Ezekiel 15:1-5). Building off of this understanding, Jesus teaches that unbelievers who are not connected to Him are incapable of bearing supernatural spiritual fruit and are therefore cut off and tossed into the fire (John 15:6). But, believers who abide in Jesus are privileged to pray to the Father who will answer prayers requesting fruitful living, providing the intention of their fruitfulness is not their own glory but the Father’s (John 15:8). Jesus reveals that the key to such fruitfulness is the love He shares with the Father and lavishes upon His people, and it is this love that causes us to gladly obey His commands which subsequently causes us to bear fruit (John 15:9-10). As God answers our prayers, lavishes love upon us, and enables us to bear fruit in our lives, Jesus teaches that we become continually more joyful (John 15:11). This joy then spills out of us as sacrificial love for others, particularly the friends He has given us (John 15:12-13). In this fruitful life of prayer, joy, and love we are friends of Jesus who are showing forth His abiding in us, and our abiding in Him (John 15:14-15). But how have we come to this place of such kindness and opportunity? In one of the strongest statements regarding election in all of Scripture, Jesus says that we did not choose Him, but rather He has chosen us and sent us into this world to pray for the grace to bear much fruit that will endure as we live in love with Him and one another (John 15:16-17). This fruit of prayer in the form of obedience, love, joy and friendship with God is nothing more than the inevitable harvest of fruitful living that results from abiding in Jesus as He abides in us. What practical things help you to abide in relationship with Jesus so that the life of the Spirit can flow from Jesus to you like a vine and branch (e.g. prayer, worship, Bible reading, etc.)?

All wrongdoing is sin…1 John 5:17 Sin is so nefarious, complex, and far-reaching that it is difficult to succinctly define. Cornelius Plantinga says: The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images:...

As the man Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity has lovingly and humbly identified with the frailty of our humanity by enduring temptation, distress, weakness, pain, and sorrow. He did so by coming as our priest. In the...

Jesus alone has lived the perfectly holy life and imaged God perfectly. Many New Testament Scriptures, and even Jesus himself, declare this: Christ, who is the image of God.1 He is the image of the invisible God.2 He is the...

I [Jesus] came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Mark 2:17 Because sin is a humanity-wide problem, answers for the definition, source, and cause of sin are postulated from seemingly every conceivable ideology. By examining some sinful views of sin,...

…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.– Hebrews 9:22 One scholar says that blood is mentioned some 362 times in the Old Testament and some ninety-two times in the New Testament and even more often than...

“… as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” – Acts 8:12 Among the scandals of the cross is the fact that Christians have called it their gospel,...