Thoughts from the Book of Daniel1
Thoughts from the Book of Daniel
While working through the Book of Daniel, the question of “How do we live faithful and effective lives in an increasingly secular world?” has repeatedly struck me. Daniel’s example shows us that it is possible to walk that difficult line of being in the world, but not of the world. Daniel models uncommon discernment in knowing when it is acceptable to go along with the world and when it is necessary to draw a line and take a stand. This kind of high-level discernment only comes by being immersed in the Word of God and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Daniel reminds us that there is a category of wisdom from above that is largely unavailable to the unbelieving world. From the beginning, Daniel and his three friends are marked by an understanding of life and the world that was “ten times better” than the knowledge possessed by the Babylonians. This is the kind of wisdom that only comes from God. This is a wisdom that can solve the ultimate questions of life such as: What’s humanity’s greatest problem? What’s the answer? What’s our ultimate purpose in life? How can we achieve an abundant life? What’s the solution to our greatest threat—death?
Daniel gives me hope for our world here and now. When God’s people are willing to respectfully engage with the world and proclaim the wisdom that only comes from the Triune God, particularly when it is risky or dangerous to do so, there is hope that like Nebuchadnezzar, the world will listen. There is hope that just when circumstances seem to be slipping from bad to desperate, God will always do what He does best-- bringing about new life and redemption in a new, glorious day.
But let me back up for a moment. Here is the challenge that flows out of Daniel: Will God’s people remain both engaged with the world and faithful to the Lord? Will God’s people resist the temptation to find acceptance in the world through compromise? Will we put our trust in Christ and His Word and reject the very pragmatic idols of our age? Will we possess the courage to speak of God’s eternal wisdom to the world’s authorities? And if the world persecutes us for it, are we willing to suffer for a time even to the point of death?
The book of Daniel provides believers with a path forward that can lead, like ancient Nineveh, to national blessing and life. The picture painted by Daniel is not of a church at the mercy of the world’s hostile powers and authorities. Instead, it is of a troubled world dependent on hearing the life-giving wisdom that comes only from God. For this message to be heard and believed by the world, it must also witness a Christ-centered people humbly living out that wisdom and who, like our Lord Jesus, is willing to suffer greatly for it. This is the call to be salt and light in the world.
Grace and Peace,