Search

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.

“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.