There is a song from the old Rocky movies that I love. I do not agree with the singer famous for singing the song, but this song leads into this series extremely well. It is the James Brown song "Living In America". For many, just the title triggers the words and music rolling through our brain. At the end of the song, there is a dramatic closing that highlights the theme of the writers intent. Sing it with me - "living in America...I feel good!" I can just picture all you doing your best James Brown "I feel good!" Scary picture indeed!
Today it is next to impossible from a patriotic standpoint to say that we "feel good" about America. With multiple issues being magnified recently, no one can now doubt that America has changed greatly. Fear, sadness, and frustration are the most common emotions expressed once this new reality is grasped. And this new reality begs the question, "how are we Christians suppose to live in America today?"
I have more than hinted in this past on this blog that I think the best picture of how we Christians should live in the current American culture can be seen in the life of Daniel. The story of Daniel has been taught in many Bible Study classes and groups for years. The lions den and his unwillingness to bow to anyone but God are clearly etched in our minds. Daniels story is a great one. And yet there is more to the story than what we might think.
We begin by looking at:
Daniel was committed with all he had to God. His commitment was much different than what we may understand it to be today. When one reads of how God had brought him into favor with chief of the eunuchs in chapter 1, we see that Daniel was respectful and always seeking to help those around him learn. His commitment was not for dogma, but for the sharing of the awesomeness of God. Instead of demanding, Daniel was willing to be tested so that proof of God and His glory would be revealed. How was this possible? Chapter 1 reveals in verse 8 that he had PURPOSED in his HEART to NOT defile himself. The commitment of Daniel was more than a mental decision. The decision that Daniel had made was more than convenience and self rights. Daniel looked within his life and had made the decision that God was his God. He was determined to be used in whatever way God would choose. The commitment of Daniel began with his own surrendering of his life to God in his heart.
Applying Daniels Commitment
Many in our nation today have experienced commitment from the background of mere convenience. Just as America has slowly changed over the years, the idea of what a commitment looks like has also changed. It is extremely difficult for us to realize what it means to get to the core of our commitment. Priorities are numerous. But what priority is at the top of our list. This is where we must begin. For Daniel, it was God. For us, only each one can answer. Can we say that God is number 1 on our priority list? And if we say that, what does it look like? We like to add the word "but" when discussing our priorities. We will say something is number 1- BUT then will give importance to several other things at the same time.
Getting to the core of God being our priority in every aspect of life cannot be over stated. Understanding the depth of making that decision is vital. For once we determine as Daniel did, we will never have to make that decision again. It is a decision that helps in making other decisions down the road. As it was for Daniel, it will be settled once and for all in our lives. Only in making this decision is God then allowed to do His best work in our lives.
The results in Chapter 1 for Daniel spread beyond himself to those who were also willing to follow his lead. The first test of food resulted in Daniel and his men being found 10 times better than others who had eaten more completely. Daniel and his men sacrificed so that God and God alone could get all the glory in what would occur. Daniels commitment led him to put God to the test.
This is no small example of commitment. The life lesson from Daniel Chapter 1 reveals struggle and risk. Faithfulness and trust were immediately required. And do not overlook that Daniels commitment is highlighted by sacrifice. Commitment is not as easy as we Americans have been conditioned to think. Biblical commitment is tough!
Can we make Daniels type of commitment today? God says yes. The question for each one of us is will we?
Our commitment cannot be made to a way of life. Nothing Biblically nor nationally can guarantee a way of life. Our commitment can only have as the object the person of God! His glory and His glory alone must be the basis and focus of our commitment.
It was for Daniel, will it be for us?
Part 2 will deal with Daniels self marketing.