…let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.
Every day it becomes more clear that we live in a culture hostile to Jesus Christ. Just ask Chick Fil-A or anyone from the Robertson family. This is not a new situation for Christians. As hostility and persecution has ebbed and flowed, Christians have had to prayerfully consider how to respond. How should we live in a culture hostile to God?
In the first seven chapters of Daniel God has given us a crystal clear answer: by humble faith. In chapter one Daniel and his friends respectfully ask permission to abstain from the king’s meat which was no doubt sacrificed to Babylon’s gods. In chapter three Daniel’s three friends respectfully refuse to bow down and worship the Babylonian patriotic/religious obelisk. In chapter six Daniel prays in plain sight knowing of the law passed prohibiting such an act, and humbly accepts the consequence of being thrown into a den of lions.
Not once do we read of Daniel & Co. fighting against the pagan government, resorting to guerrilla warfare, or fleeing to a state with more religious freedoms. Rather than “rage against the machine,” God calls us to humbly walk by faith. Christianity in America is too often associated with picket lines and protests rather than people of faith.
The first seven chapters of Daniel also teach us the theological truths than provide the foundation for such a calm faith: God is sovereign, and his kingdom will ultimately displace all earthly kingdoms. This is the point of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams in chapters two and four, and the point of the writing on the wall in chapter five. In chapter seven, Daniel’s vision reveals that time when God’s kingdom has indeed replaced earthly kingdoms.
By understanding the truth of God’s sovereignty, we are freed to walk by humble faith. Our future is in his hands. We are part of his kingdom, not yet fully realized, but certainly present and growing.
We must resist the temptation to fight back, to play dirty, or to engage in sinful reactions to our hostile culture. In these circumstances, God’s glory is best seen in our humble faith. Let us refuse to compromise as to who we worship, and let us show the power of God’s kingdom by our faith, not our strength.