Monday, February 15, 2010

Didn't the Lord deliver Daniel?

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. -Daniel 6:10

Let’s face it, most of us are not under persecution as Christians. We are not likely to be killed for our faith. Yet in the minor moments of discrimination, we often fall short.

I think Daniel’s interaction with people who oppose his faith is overshadowed by our emphasis on his lion’s den experience.

The thing is that Daniel’s choice to defy authority is obviously the right one, because we know what happens next. The king’s decrees are a test, so that Daniel can be thrown into the den of lions, and not die, and then we can all talk about it at Sunday school...  read more/-

But are tests of faith really this clear, in general?

Have you ever eaten a certain food out of politeness? You didn’t really want to, but you did it anyway. Or, when someone apologized for vulgar speech or music, said quickly “Oh, that’s okay”? We are good at “denying” our own preferences, and even values, when it comes to pleasing others.

Why couldn’t Daniel have compromised just a little? After all, taking on others’ traditions is a sign of respect.  Why couldn’t he have just pretended he was doing something else when the men came, so that no one would know he was breaking the rules? Why couldn’t his friends have bowed down to the false gods? It could have been just a physical act; they wouldn’t necessarily have had to deny God in their hearts.

In one of my classes the other day, we had to learn various phrases that reference “God” (though the person is not usually appealing to God, in reality). You know, all the ones like, “For the love of God…” and “God forbid…”  Then we had to practice saying them to each other. And I thought for a moment…what if I said that I don’t want to take the name of the Lord in vain? The teacher had just polled the class earlier in the lesson. About half of us were Catholic (the Czechs and Argentinean), half were Protestant (the North Americans and Germans), and the teacher herself was Russian Orthodox. So, technically we were all Christians.

I talked myself out of saying anything. And no one else protested. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal. Or was it?

Little choices: If I say anything they will think I’m weird or self-righteous..., but on the other hand, at least they will know I’m a Christian and can ask me questions later..., but then again, maybe this isn’t the place for talking about religion..., but on the other hand, this is the only place I’ll see these people.

…but what if I offend someone?

If I smile and nod the whole day, and then offer God my most devout prayers in the privacy of my home, then who am I, really?

2 comments:

  1. I think that sometimes we are faced with such situations to hone us for the really big ones or just to give us a chance to sort it all out and be ready the next time. Someone may open up to you and let you know how she feels about it. Or you may open up to someone else in the group and let her know how you feel. Would the teacher be open to you talking to her about it?

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  2. I talked to another missionary in the class. She agreed that she uses some of these phrases sincerely, but wouldn't use the more blasphemous-sounding ones. In general we are allowed to speak of our faith in class, since we are discussing religious and pagan roots. But it is more factual and not based on personal witness.

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