Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whom Shall I Fear? Rescuing Daniel from the Children’s Books

by George Lawson
Of course you know about Daniel and the Lions’ Den.  Even if you didn’t grow up with a high-tech flannel graph presentation in your Sunday-School class, or use your creative genius to turn a paper lunch bag into a ferocious man-eating beast, you could rehearse the story in vivid detail.
But although we are familiar with Daniel’s rescue from the Lions’ den, he still seems to be trapped in children’s books, and is placed on the shelf between Mother Goose and Aesop’s fables.  The 6th chapter of Daniel is more than a bed-time story, and if I can be honest with you, for a long time I missed the main point.

• The main point of Daniel 6 is not Daniel’s example.
Was Daniel a great servant of God? Is he worthy of imitation?  Absolutely!  And there is nothing wrong with imitating the faith of faithful men.  That’s what we are instructed to do throughout Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 4:9).  We need to live lives worthy of imitation and find those who are worthy of imitating.  The author of Hebrews reminds us to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).  That’s an application of Daniel 6, but it’s not the main point.

• The main point of Daniel 6 is not Daniel’s faith.
That’s another application that we can rightfully draw out of this great narrative and that is the aspect that is highlighted in Hebrews 11.  In that chapter, known as the hall of faith, we read of men “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33). Daniel is a model of strong and robust faith in God.  There is no question that we can learn to trust God from Daniel, but again that is not the main point.

• The main point of Daniel 6 is not Daniel’s courage.
The VeggieTales Daniel helps us answer the question, “Where’s God when I’m s-scared.”   Is Daniel an example of courage?  You better believe he is.  In Daniel 6:10,  after he learned about the king’s decree, his very first act was to pray.  If that’s not an iron will, I don’t know what is.

All of these are lessons that we can learn from Daniel 6, but if we miss the point at the end of the story we are missing the main point!  What was it that struck King Darius as he walked away from the lions’ den?  What words did Daniel record, as a fitting conclusion to this chapter? What are we supposed to take away from this narrative?  Listen to this…

“Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!  I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel…” (Daniel 6:25-26).

• The main point of Daniel 6 is Daniel’s God!
That’s the main point that Darius walked away from the den with, and that’s the main point that Daniel wants us to walk away from this chapter with.  The great impression on Darius was not Daniel’s example, Daniel’s faith or Daniel’s courage, but rather the sovereign God that Daniel served.   Do you fear and tremble before a sovereign God?  Is that what you usually think of when you think of Daniel and the Lions’ den?  I’m all for helping kids get a good night’s sleep, but let’s not be satisfied with answering the question “Where’s God when I’m afraid?”  Let’s ask the more important question, “Who’s afraid of my God?”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


If any preacher, pastor, or otherwise spokesperson for "God" ever prays or declares over you that you will "never have a negative feeling or a negative thought ever again," and says it with a straight face, please have a negative thought right away! Like, "this guy is nuts!" Seriously? People actually trust anything else this guy says???

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Cry for Tolerance – but is it really?

With all the ado surrounding the CEO of Chick-Fil-A’s personal stance on traditional marriage we hear, quite loudly, cries for tolerance. But is tolerance what is really being demanded? No. I don’t think it is.

Let me first start with explaining what tolerance in this context, truly is. Tolerance is defined a few ways in Webster’s but in relation to this topic the one that best defines it is as follows:

    2. a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b : the act of allowing something

Essentially, tolerance is the act of allowing others to believe and do certain things while those beliefs or actions conflict with our own. That is tolerance, and I will argue, Christians seem to have a corner on the market.

This is ironic I realize, as we are the ones who are most often called “intolerant”. But we are not. We tolerate other religions. We tolerate the sinful behavior of our neighbor (and ourselves for that matter). We tolerate mockery and scorn. The list goes on…

Our tolerance however is called into question when we speak about the objective nature of things. When we make truth claims about how things are or how things are supposed to be, we are automatically thought of as intolerant. And I don’t think I need to rattle off the list of objective truth claims found within the Christian system. I am taking it for granted that most who read this will be able to intuit my point.

But yes, our tolerance is called into question when we say things are 1. Right or 2. Wrong. When taking an unwavering stand on certain “hot button” topics, it is thought of as intolerant. But if tolerance is understood as what is found in the above definition, then taking a stand on something isn’t intolerant it is merely saying that with which we disagree is, well, what we disagree with. And if we think those things should change, it still doesn’t follow that we aren’t tolerant of the thing in question. We are. This is made evident in the fact that Christians (in contemporary Western culture – and I think I am saying in all contemporary culture) are not putting people to death for worshiping false gods. We are not stoning people for what they are doing in their bedrooms. What we are doing however is saying false gods are evil and certain bedroom activity is sinful.

Pointing out that something is wrong and should come to an end doesn’t mean we are not tolerating it. What it does mean however is that we care. We care about people who are captive to false gods and the power of sin. We care deeply about them. If we are Christians we can’t help but care which leads me to why I am writing this in the first place. Which is this …

When people are crying out for tolerance, what they really want is indifference. They want us not to care. They do want approval to a certain extent but over all they just don’t want us to care about them. People don’t want Christians caring about their sin, the state of their souls, or them in general. Because when we care it nags at their conscience.

They don’t want tolerance, they want apathy.

When people demand that Christians be tolerant, what they are really saying is “stop caring.” Why do you care what people do in their bedrooms? Why do you care if people are Atheist or Mormon or Hindu? Why do you care? Why do you care? Why. Do. You. Care?
I would say ultimately because God cares and we being His people have been given hearts that reflect His own. And within those hearts is love and concern for all humanity. Yet we are being asked to do what is impossible. We are being asked not to care about the state of the lost world around us. And speaking of the lost world around us, we can now revisit the idea of tolerance.

As I said above we are a very tolerant group. When we consider that everything “of the world” is antithetical to our worldview I’d say we are exceptionally tolerant. But we must not forget to point to the most tolerant of all. God.

Consider how entirely holy and perfect He is yet stands by and permits our rank sinfulness. He tolerates a lot. He is the most tolerant of all. But one day, that tolerance will come to an end and only those who belong to Christ will then be tolerated for all eternity. This is why we care, and why the demand for apathy will go unheeded.

We will never cease caring for a lost and fallen world. We will continue to tolerate it but we will never stop caring.