Summary: Faith in Christ enables us to stand up for him.
An elderly man decided to oppose the system. He wasn’t being a rebel. He wasn’t out on a mission to be different. He was only following the Word of God that had passed down to him. But this made him stand out all the more.
Of course, I’m speaking of Daniel. He lived in a unique period of history. Daniel was challenged to make a decision between obeying the government or God. We can learn much from Daniel about bittersweet lesson of what it means to take a stand.
Thankfully, we don’t have to choose between obeying God and the government. Yet, we are still called to take a stand. Our faith is bombarded with real opposition everyday. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit strengthens us through his Word, and leads us to STAND UP FOR JESUS! 1) In the Face of Challenge, and 2) To Seize the Opportunity.
1) In the Face of Challenge
Daniel lived through some challenging times. He faced the horror of war, as he witnessed the fall of his country and people at the hand of the Babylonians. The king of Babylon came in and swept over Israel, wiping it out and taking the people into captivity. Among the captives was Daniel. He was a teenager at the time. And Daniel had proven to possess a certain aptitude for leadership, so he was placed in a special school where he would learn how to serve the king.
Talk about a challenge! Daniel was being forced to serve the very king who had ruined his life! He was to aid the man who had destroyed his home and family! Yet, God gave Daniel the grace to excel. The Lord would lead Daniel to stand firm in the face of this challenge.
Daniel did excel. He had quite a record of achievements. In fact, all the other administrators and government officials were jealous of Daniel’s success. And so they concocted a scheme that would lead to Daniel’s fall. First, they checked his performance records for mistakes, but they couldn’t find any evidence of negligence or corruption on his part.
It became clear to Daniel’s enemies that they wouldn’t find any basis of charge against him. In order to bring charges against Daniel, these jealous men were going to have to create a situation where his loyalty to the king would be questioned. These evil men went to the king and pressured him to sign an edict banning prayer to anyone but the king himself. This may sound absurd, but just imagine how this must have set with the king’s ego. Picture everyone in your neighborhood being forced to pray to you, to worship and honor you, as a god! What an ego trip!
Daniel faced a challenge. He was tempted to take his eyes off of God and place his focus on human king, Darius. After all, the official decree stated: “anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lion’s den.” Daniel was being challenged to not worship God.
We face similar challenges everyday. We waged in a real battle; a battle against our faith. The war waged against our faith in Christ has to do with worship. Our own sinful hearts, the world around us, the devil himself, they all are engaged in a battle to lead us to not worship God. When we’re tempted to deny God worship, then we are tempted to deny him thanks. Thanklessness stems from a lack of faith. The more we take our eyes off of God, the less thankful we are towards him. When we take our focus off of God we see just how much we lack. W e lack solutions to our problems, courage in the face of worry. Just open a magazine or turn on the TV and people will tell just how much you lack – you lack that perfectly toned body, you lack the newest style, you lack the latest kitchen gadget. You lack the new video game system. When we focus on what we lack, then we are led to doubt God, as if he really doesn’t care. And when we doubt God, we become unappreciative of all he does give to us. We lack a desire to worship him.
Some would say the solution is to stand up for Jesus. And so you’ll hear such rhetoric: Stand up for Jesus and fight the frenzy of commercialism. Boycott Disney World! Burn those books! Throw out your TV! Stand up for Jesus and fight this great evil called government. Send letters to your senator! Challenge your leaders! Stand up and break the chains of immoral America! Stand up for Jesus because he needs you! Prove you’re worthy of him! That’s no advice, though. All that kind of talk does is tempt us to focus on ourselves all the more. The more we look to our own lives and action for a source of strength, the less we look to God for a reason to be thankful.