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Summary: A message from the Book of Daniel about how believers can thrive in a post-Christian American culture.

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LIVING IN BABYLON

How to Thrive in America’s Post-Christian Culture

INTRO:

- I love Freedom Celebration! It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate our spiritual heritage as a nation. I also love the camaraderie that comes about when people celebrate their patriotism together

o It crosses every social, ethnic, and religious demographic line when we come together.

- I am proud to be an American and I’m so grateful for the heritage that our country has.

- But today we also need to understand that the America that we once knew is much different from the America that we now know.

o Some would say that we are now living in a Post-Christian culture where Christianity has moved from being the most dominant worldview to being the

- As American evangelicals – we are facing some important decisions as to WHO we are going to be and HOW we are going to address the constantly changing culture around us.

o Some churches try to ERADICATE / EXECUTE the culture – they’ll thump their Bibles, organize their boycotts, and gather in their picketing rallies.

• What happens is these Christians are poised for ministry in the OLD cultural mindset.

• They expect to be heard and respected.

They expect to have the power

They expect culture to fall in line with the leadership of the church.

• The problem is the culture isn’t listening

o Some churches try to EMBRACE the culture – “Well, if we can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” And they embrace homosexual marriage and other things.

• And every denomination that has been focused on embracing the culture is either dead or declining. They have no spiritual power.

• When you try to ERADICATE the culture, you lose your relevancy.

When you try to EMBRACE the culture, you lose your influence and power. Neither one is correct. So what’s the solution?

o We must learn as a church to ENGAGE our culture.

• We must re-learn how to engage our culture from the edges instead of the center.

• Why? Because the Christianity is no longer the epicenter of political and social circles.

- Christianity grows faster in places where the Christian faith is more marginalized and persecuted, rather than in the center.

- I’ve seen a couple articles out there that say that Christianity in America is dying.

o I don’t believe it is dying – I believe it is being redefined.

- Under the umbrella of American Christianity, you can really categorize us into 1 of two categories: Nominal Christianity and Convictional Christianity

o Convictional Christians are those who call themselves Christian and they take it seriously – it governs how they live, they’re actively pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ.

• Since 2007 – those numbers have grown from 59 million to 62 million.

o Nominal Christianity is on the decline. Nominal Christian means “in name only.”

• These are those who would identify as Christians but they don’t really live or practice their faith. They may attend church sporadically or on holidays but they really don’t have a personal relationship with God.

• Just based on the size of this crowd, there are a lot of nominal Christians in this room.

- What’s happening in American Christianity today is this…

o Those that are NOMINAL Christians (in name only) are becoming the NONES. Before these people would say, “I ascribe to the Christian faith,” but now they say, “I ascribe to no faith…or all roads lead to heaven.”

o This group here has remained stable (increased just a smidgen)

o So just to review – the Nominals are becoming the Nones (sharp decline) and the Convictional Christians remain a stable minority.

o So Christianity in America is becoming less nominal, more defined, and more outside the mainstream of American culture.

• Just in the last 20 years, Christians have gone from having a lot of respect, to a patronizing pat on the head, to a marginalizing indifference, to an outright hostility.

ILLUS: CARTOON

- The reality is this: Genuine Christianity is not declining in America – but no one can deny that Christianity has lost its home field advantage.

- Jesus calls these two groups of people – the WHEAT and the TARES.

- It’s no easy thing to live a godly life in the midst of an increasingly godless society. But it can be done… and DANIEL shows us how.

o While Daniel was living in Babylon – he didn’t just survive…he THRIVED and he changed an entire empire while he was at it.

o When it comes to the Book of Daniel, his incredible example of how to live and thrive in the most godless environment is the main lesson we don’t want to miss.

TURN to DANIEL 1

- While you’re turning, let me tell you about the background of the Book of Daniel.

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