Summary: Christians who consistently demonstrate spiritual integrity earn "Christian cred."
Title: How to Live for God in a Pagan Culture / “Street Cred”
Text: Daniel 1, 2 and 6
Thesis: Christians who consistently demonstrate spiritual integrity earn Christian cred.
Series: The Bible in 90 Days Whole Church Challenge
Did you know there is an Urban Dictionary of terms (or a dictionary of urban terms)? It is like a whole new language of over four million terms that have been coined since 1999. For example, one of the newly coined terms is “mantrum.” Do you know what a “mantrum” is? A “mantrum” is when a grown man throws a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way. Did you know there a term for the voice you use when you are not talking to your friends? It’s called your “people voice” and it is usually a happier and nicer voice than you would use normally. It is your voice when you answer the telephone or serve a customer or converse at church.
While I am fascinated by all this new terminology, there is one term from the Urban Dictionary that is particularly appropriate for our discussion today. It is the term, “street cred.”
In some urban neighborhoods a person earns street cred or street credibility by accumulating points. For example, you get 10 points for being born poor; 50 points if you’ve sold drugs; 65 points if you’ve been shot and survived; 20 points if you have at least 10 tatoos; 65 points if you’ve been in prison, etc. Conversely, you lose points if you live with your parents; are a good student; have no criminal record or smile for your mug shot.
Street cred is necessary if you want to command respect in certain urban environments. Individuals get street cred through experiencing and knowing about life and survival on the streets. A person with street cred is respected on the streets.
I wonder if we there is something akin to street cred that we might refer to as “Christian cred” with the implication being, a person who earns points through life experience as a follower of Jesus Christ has “Christian cred” and is respected as a person of Christian integrity.
Daniel is the man at the center of our bible reading today. His life is marked by what we might call “God cred.” His life was a demonstration of consistent devotion to God and spiritual practices and so much so, that at one point the Darius, King of Persia, decreed that everyone in his kingdom must “fear and reverence the God of Daniel.” Daniel 6:26
That kind of cred is as credible as cred gets. How did Daniel earn his “street cred?” Daniel was true to his convictions.
I. Be true to your convictions. Daniel 1:6-21
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. Daniel 1:8
Last Sunday we talked about how the Babylonian army was poised to take the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah lamented to God in 32:24 about the siege ramps King Nebuchadnezzar had built against the walls of Jerusalem, the famine and disease and the imminent fall of the city. In our story today, the city has fallen and the Babylonians have taken many of the Israelite people into exile. Among those taken back to Babylon were the choicest young men from noble Israelite families who were perfect specimens of physical strength, handsome in features and superior in intellect. Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were among them.
King Nebuchadnezzar was actually quite clever. His plan was to immerse the cream of the crop, so to speak, into the Babylonian culture. They would become Babylonians in every sense of the word and serve in high positions within the Babylonian Empire.
Part of this immersion into the culture was a three year crash course in language, literature and learning the customs of the Babylonian people. So much so was their indoctrination that they were given new Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar and his friends were newly named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
Part of their training was dietary. They were assigned a daily diet of food and wine from the King’s table. The assumption is that this was a very delicious and rich diet… fit for a king and the king’s men.
We don’t know why this was a problem. No explanation is given… but Daniel felt that eating the king’s diet would be a violation of his personal convictions. The bible says that Daniel “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine” and asked to be exempted and given a vegan diet instead.
The story has a happy ending in that Daniel and his friends thrived on the vegan diet and looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the delicious food. And as the years passed God gave Daniel and his friends, special understanding and Daniel in particular could discern the meanings of dreams and visions.