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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.

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:...