Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Prayers and Pits

Tolerance does not accept all ways of thinking. Religious convictions and practices often get pegged as oppressive and legislated to the margins. Christians should not fear the margins, it is a position where faith has historically thrived. The prophetic voice of critique and hope resounds from the margins. When Christian voices mingle with the mainstream, they're often diluted or drowned out.

Daniel chapter six provides an interesting case study in prophetic action in a godless world. While the Medes and Persians were known for their policy of tolerance (Ezra 1:1-4), Daniel quickly finds out that tolerance has limits. His jealous opponents trick King Darius into making a law that restricts prayer to the king for a thirty day period. They know Daniel will chose the law of God over the law of the land.

And he does. Daniel continues praying - bowed to the ground, facing Jerusalem (1 Ki. 8), three times a day. His religious acts are not a political statement. He is not posturing. Daniel simply maintains piety in the face of scrutiny because he values God's unchanging law over the ever-shifting law of the land. His prayerful resistance results both in persecution (e.g. a night in the lions' den) and God's protection.

While America is not Israel, Christians can certainly relate to the political environment of Daniel's day. Laws morph. Tolerance reigns. That is, except for tolerance of firm morals and upstanding faith. American Christians empathize with Daniel's sense of exile no more than Christians of any time and place understand exile. Christians are not citizens of this world (Phil. 3:20). And as strangers and exiles, Christians are not called to greater politicking, but greater piety (1 Pet. 2:11ff).

Perhaps the best starting point for piety is on one's knees. Praying. Confessing. Resisting the gravitational pull of a godless world to drift into the mainstream. This sermon calls us to such a faith as this. 

God Gets Flesh - John 1:1-18 sermon

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