From the time of Exodus down to the exile, the Jews had their own land and their own government, but beginning in the exile, they existed among the nations as a people set apart. God’s people among the wicked. In other words, they lived just like us.
During the time of Israel’s independence, the stories are primarily about their leaders – the Priests, Kings, and Judges. But both before and after their independence, we have completely different stories: stories about Jewish influence among the wicked. Joseph starts this pattern, and after the exile it is picked up by Daniel (and his three friends), Nehemiah, and Mordecai and Esther. In fact, I would go as far as saying that when God’s people do not have independence, this is actually the normative pattern. Instead of Kings we have viziers.
Joseph and Daniel obviously did not seek their influence, but Mordecai clearly did. He worked for a position of influence and he trained his niece to do likewise. In fact, he raised her from a young age to be a potential queen and deliverer of Israel. This pattern has not fundamentally changed even after the cross. The Jews have always been a people set apart among the nations, and part of their strategy for survival has been to become people of influence. See, for example, the Rothschild family in Europe. They attained a position of great power, and used it to protect the Jews.
Now, let’s look at how this compares to the Christian story. For most of history since the cross, Christians have been in positions of power. Basically from Constantine down to the dawn of secularism. And what is interesting is that Christianity first attained power through an Esther type story – Constantine’s mother had been a Christian. And in fact, many places where Christianity gained power, it was through the highly placed women. Then came the days of the “kings.” During the era of Christendom, Christians did not have to simply influence people of power, they could be the people in power. Now, with the rise of secularism, we are returning to the former arrangement – we are going into the exile.
This is dangerous situation, because just like the Jews, we will always be hated by the world. And just like the Jews, whenever the world can, it will try to kill us. The killing only stops when we have enough power to stop it. But how is that kind of power obtained? Through the Mordecai method: that is intentional discipleship of our children to be people of influence in the pagan culture. The Jews did this in America just like they had in so many other places, and obtained massive influence, far bigger than their numbers.
This idea is very foreign to most contemporary Christians. We think of ourselves in spiritual terms only, but this is a luxury afforded to us by the centuries of Christian advancement in history. We did not gain freedom by some accident or Providence alone. We gained it by fighting for it over a very long period of time.
This is not just the basis of freedom for us, but the basis of freedom in general Christians are unique because we are willing to die en masse not to submit to autocracy. Now, of course, we look at it as dying for Christ, but at the end of the day, what we’re really fighting is the limitless ego of man, god-kings, modern Nebuchadnezzars. The only way to defeat these people is by not fearing death. And Christians did that through history, and successfully limited their power – even once they took over the church itself. That’s really the root of human freedom, and that is why once the Christian witness wanes, freedom itself also wanes – there is no force strong enough really to stop it.
According to Proverbs, when the righteous rule, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. When Christians are in power, this leads to good for everyone, and when we are absent from power, this leads to oppression for everyone. That is what happened during the 20th century. We were out of the citadels of culture for a long time, and those who hate Christianity and love sin began to disciple the culture, including us and including our children. We need to reverse this.
It is often said in worldview circles that culture precedes politics, and this is true, but politics also precedes culture. It is a cycle. And culture is shaped by those in power. Those who have the power to tell you what to think: the news, entertainment, the schools. And those who have the power to tell you what to do: the government. They teach you what to believe in the schools, and the punish you if you don’t with the government. This is how it works, and in a sense, this is how it always has worked. Those who control the citadels of culture, control the future.
Americans have an especially hard time seeing this, because we have a liberal, almost libertarian way of seeing the world. We think “live and let live” and everything will just work itself out. The only problem is that it’s not working out. The more and more we remove Christian ideas from our law, the more depraved our culture becomes. That’s why we are in freefall. Christian leaders like to lacerate the church for being ineffective, but this often comes off like “go be holier” and “stay married.” These are good things, but they don’t really have a lot to do with why we are in a cultural implosion. We are imploding because the secularists are in power and we’re not doing enough to stop them.
Yes, our spirituality and encounter with God is an important factor, but by itself, it is not enough. Faith without works means we’re all dead. Real spirituality and faith, is the kind that changes power structures. This means we need a change in our notion of spirituality. We need to inwardly understand that Christianity is about discipling the nations—that is teaching the masses to follow Christ, and that accomplishing this discipleship is something that requires authority, not just appeals. This means fundamentally that we must change our family, church and life structures to create people of influence. Next post on how to do that.