Summary: Living the Christian life is not easy. This passage illustrates 4 key principles required to practically live an authentic Christian life: Perspective, Persistence, Practice and Praise.
The Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California.
During the conversion, her three massive smokestacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the 3/4 inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than thirty coasts of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had rusted away.
A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. "Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked. After a moment's pause, one youngster said, "Maybe it's because they don't know you."
In both of these examples neither the smoke stacks nor the deacon were what they appeared to be.
When non-christians are asked why they do not believe in God the most common reason is that there are too many hypocrites in the church. They expect us to be authentic in our faith and in our lives and make no mistake they are watching. The word “authentic” means: conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features
It should be obvious that God wants us to be authentic in our Christian lives since we are charged to “no longer conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” and to “put off the old self” our old way of life and “put on the new self” our new way of life through Jesus Christ. God desires for us to live an authentic Christian life, society expects that we live an authentic Christian life and again, they are watching.
Living the Christian life is not easy. If it were then the Bible would not have to tell us how to live it. This passage illustrates 4 key principles required to practically live an authentic Christian life: Perspective, Persistence, Practice and Praise. Usually when we think of this common passage of Daniel in the Lion’s Den we attempt to focus on what happens inside the den. Equally important is what happens prior to going into the den and what happens on the way out. Daniel had a proper perspective.
This passage is about who Daniel is in relation to his God and to society. That is what perspective is.
a. Christian life is not easy
A common misperception is that the Christian life is easy. I’m not sure where that idea came from but it is not true. Daniel was very aware of that. At this point in the text Daniel is approximately 80 years old. When he was a teenager his hometown of Jerusalem was besieged and conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. He was taken into exile to Babylon, a foreign land where he was the minority and he was indoctrinated into their culture. As far as we know he was separated from his family and we do not see from the text that he ever saw them again. Life as Daniel knew it ceased to exist and he was now in survival mode. He saw his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego persecuted for their faith when they would not bow down and worship the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar made. Daniel saw the Babylonian empire go through multiple leadership changes after King Nebuchadnezzar as the king’s family members killed one another in order to sit on the throne. He then saw the Babylonian empire besieged and conquered by Darius the Mede. Through all of this Daniel knew that he was a foreigner in a foreign land. He knew that his life of faith was not easy. And once again in this chapter we see Daniel being persecuted for his faith. King Darius selected 120 Satraps or regional rulers to govern their districts throughout Babylon. Over those Satraps were 3 commissioners one of which was Daniel. Daniel continued to excel and the king planned to set Daniel above all the others. These 120 Satraps were not going to allow that so they conspired with one another to get rid of Daniel, that foreigner that did not belong. More than likely many of these leaders did not like one another but nothing unites people like having a common enemy. They were united and none of them were talking to Daniel about what was going on. Can you just imagine the gossiping and discussions that went on as they tried to figure out a plan to trap Daniel? Daniel knew from experience that a life of faith is not easy.