Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom…When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:3, 10
Our circumstances are similar to Daniel’s in some respects, aren’t they? Babylon was not his home. Rather, he was exiled there for a lifetime, instructed to invest, make a home, and seek the welfare of this lifetime home. As Christ followers, this world is not our home. It is merely where we are for this lifetime. And we are instructed to invest, make a home, and seek the welfare of our lifetime home. God expected Daniel to be salt and light in his new home. God expects the same from us. Finally, like Daniel, we find ourselves in a culture that is increasingly antagonistic toward us and toward the God we worship. So, what does Daniel have to teach us about these circumstances?
When the opposition organized against Daniel and created laws which his walk with God simply could not abide, what did Daniel do? How did he respond? Here’s a list of ways he did NOT respond:
- He did not take to his loud, proud social media voice and begin slamming those who had conspired against his God;
- He did not stoop to his adversaries’ political ways by mobilizing his own political action committee to fight the battle in the world’s arena;
- He did not create a bunch of hateful protest signs and organize a march on King Darius’ courts;
- He did not cry out for a boycott of all the businesses of the governors and business leaders who had organized against him;
- He did not set out to persuade his family gatherings by vocally disparaging the King and his horribly flawed decisions.
Daniel went home. And he prayed. And He left the trouble in the worthy hands of the very God who gave breath to all these adversaries, including King Darius. And this tactic on Daniel’s part was not a last resort. It was his first and only resort. You see, the very same spirit-filled, quiet confidence which had helped raise Daniel to prominence in the first place would be his best and most effective quality even now, in the face of the harshest of opposition. In the face of a non-believing culture who no-doubt scoffed at his “thoughts and prayers”, Daniel prayed. And you know how the story ended.
The question for our current culture, then, is this: who are our Daniels?
I read this week that “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, the documentary about Fred Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood has found surprising success. There is a great article about that success here. It is surprising because, let’s be honest, people and messages of such Biblical relevance as “love thy neighbor” are not exactly finding traction these days in our culture. Today’s public discourse is rather all about tribal warfare, and has very little to do with trying to build community despite our diversity. But this documentary about a quirky little Presbyterian preacher with a simple, low-budget children’s television show has (with the quiet confidence of a “Daniel”) caught the attention of an entertainment culture. Fred Rogers was a “Daniel”.
But who are the Daniels for us today? I am certain there are many. Maybe you know some of them…men and women with “an excellent spirit” whose quiet confidence in God is making a difference in their communities. No twitter voice, no protest sign, no flashy simulcast. Just a peaceful confidence that God has all the answers and that, somehow, He and His word will prevail, even without a publicist or political strategist.
You know a Daniel or two, don’t you? The question is, are YOU one?