Danny Boy – Part 1

Danny Boy – Part 1

Aug 23

 

As I continue to consider a Christian’s response to a culture that doesn’t align with Christ’s commands, I’m considering examples found in the Bible. Jesus is our main role-model – and there are others that reflect a Christ-like attitude and response to the world around them. Like Daniel.

 

A FEW GOOD MEN

In King Nebuchadnezzar’s pursuit to be “Supreme Ruler of the World”, he consistently drafted the best-of-the-best in the countries he conquered and trained them for service in his court.  When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, the King’s chief-of-staff went to work scouting for potential recruits. Daniel, a good looking, intelligent, strong, wise, and God-honoring young man – perfectly fit the description of what Nebuchadnezzar was looking for (with the exception, perhaps, of “God-honoring”).

Hauled away from his home, Daniel was taken to Babylon and placed in a three year training program – preparing him to serve in the royal palace. There he received top-knotch education and experienced the best that Babylon had to offer, including food served directly from the King’s kitchen. These meals, however, didn’t always meet the dietary laws Daniel was following.

 

PROVING GROUNDS

Determined to obey the dietary laws (at that time, it was required by those following God), Daniel respectfully spoke with Nebuchadnezzar’s chief-of-staff requesting permission to not eat the unacceptable foods. “I’d love to,” the chief-of-staff replied, “But I’m afraid! If you don’t eat what’s given – and then end up looking sickly, not only could I lose my job… BUT I COULD LOSE MY LIFE!”.

So, Daniel spoke with the attendant that was put in charge and suggested, “Why don’t we try something. Feed me (and my friends) only vegetables and water for TEN days. When those ten days are up, put me to the test. See how I compare to those that ate everything that is served.”

And that’s what they did.

After ten days, the attendant discovered that Daniel (and friends) not only looked healthier then the others, but were better nourished as well! From then on, Daniel (and co.) were no longer required to consume everything that was given the trainees.

I can’t ignore the INTEGRAL role that God played throughout this account, both in gifting Daniel with “unusual aptitude” and influencing the people responsible for him (like the attendant). Here’s the cool part – God is still integral.

 

ACTIONS – SPEAK

How does this model how I should respond? The direct application of Daniel 1 would work really well if you ever find yourself captured and forced to work for a king (your options are severely limited). But what if you find yourself in a nation and society where you have a voice and opportunities to impact leadership/direction? I think the same model fits – and breaks down like this:

RESPECT AUTHORITY: Paul states this directly in Romans 13:1, Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 2:13. Daniel demonstrates it by talking with those in charge. He didn’t just quietly rebel, slipping food under the table or stuffing it in a napkin. He spoke up.

SPEAK HUMBLY: In his letter the the Colossians, Paul encouraged them to “Live wisely” with those who aren’t believers and let their conversations be “gracious and attractive” (Colossians 4:5-6). It follows “respect” well. Daniel knew his place, he wasn’t in a position to make changes himself. I don’t imagine him approaching the chief-of-staff or the attendant obstinately. I don’t sense a “My way or the highway!” or an “Oh yeah??? I’ll show THEM!” attitude.

PROVE IT: The invitation is to have the results speak for themselves.  It’s not just talk. Daniel’s response leaves Jesus’s words “let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16) ringing in my ears.

For me – the first two points are fairly easy (mostly, sorta, kind of). The “rubber meets the road” in point three. When I express with my words that I believe the key to a satisfying and full life is best lived serving Jesus – my hope is that I can say “test me” and the results be clear in my daily living.

It all seemed to work out well for Daniel, he asked for another option and it was granted. What about when the final decision that those in authority make directly opposes his beliefs? Let’s talk about that tomorrow.

UPDATE: Read Part 2 here

Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae

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