God often seems to raise up prophetic, truth-telling voices in difficult times. As we said yesterday, prophecy is primarily a tool for God to speak, for his people to respond, and renewal to be found. So these voices can look different depending on the culture and context they’re in. In our personal lives, we should be astute listeners and observers of the people God brings into our lives, seeking out friends, mentors and voices who are grounded in the truths of God and willing to love us enough to speak in ways which draw us nearer to God.
One of the prophetic stories which grounds me the most right now is the story of Daniel. Here’s why: We live in a post-Christian nation. That is just the reality. Scripture, truth, Christians and especially the Church are not necessarily always under assault, though sometimes we are, and sometimes deservedly. More to the point, we have become largely irrelevant, disregarded or thought to be hostile to human flourishing instead of central to it by many people.
This was the environment Daniel and his companions found themselves in. Exiled in Babylon by no choice of their own, they were faced with the pressure to be like everyone else or stay true to their God and potentially lose their lives. It would be tempting to feel “at war” with that culture. But like Daniel, who clung to the truths of God, we don’t need to be afraid or combative. God is on the throne and He will lead us and He will be victorious. We can be confident.
So the question becomes not, “how do we go to war.” The language of “culture wars” doesn’t really jive with either Daniel or Jesus. Yes, there is a war, but it’s not with the culture or people who disagree with us – it’s with the forces of darkness.
When we buy into the notion that we are in fact at war this seeps into our relationships with people on “the other side” of any issue. Politics and culture is not war. People who think differently from us are not our enemies. Even if they were, we’re called to love them, but that’s for another day.
So what would it look like for us to engage our world like Daniel and his companions? To really live out Jesus’ call to be salt and light, to bring the kingdom to earth as in heaven, to love our neighbors? What if we asked, “how do we live faithfully in a culture that is not our ‘native home and worldview’ yet seek to impact it for the good of all, thereby bringing the Kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven?”
When faced with a situation or a viewpoint this week that we know doesn’t line up with God’s ways we are called to stay true and speak up. But let us first remember that He is sovereign. Let us pray often, as Daniel did in the face of opposition. And if we face consequences, let us remember, as Daniel and his friends experienced, and the king proclaimed when they survived the fiery furnace, “no other god can save in this way!”
Confident in the loving, ultimate Grace of God, we can engage in ways that shape and redeem culture instead of destroy it. And that is the way of Jesus.
Grace and Peace,