Thriving In Babylon
Anyone who has lived in America for more than forty years senses that our nation has changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Now the truth is, probably everyone who has ever been forty or older has felt that about their surroundings. Nostalgia can make us long for years gone by, but the wisdom of God’s Word urges us not to yearn nostalgically for the past: “Don't long for ‘the good old days.’ This is not wise” (Ecclesiastes 7:10, NLT).
Times, they are a-changin’... Secularization seems to be accelerating. Religious liberty seems to be threatened in ways that we might not have anticipated. And we wonder, how is it possible to thrive as Christians in this culture?
The book of Daniel was written to help us navigate a life of faithful discipleship in a hostile climate. I love how Larry Osborne entitled his book on Daniel: Thriving in Babylon. That’s what we are going to learn to do as we worship together on Sunday mornings this fall. Next year we will return to Genesis & Romans--but right now, as our nation is facing elections and widespread tensions, Daniel is going to refresh our perspective on how to live as the salt of the earth and the light of the world in 21st century suburban Chicagoland.
Daniel is a remarkable book, demonstrating the sovereignty of God in history and in prophecy, and showing us how God’s people can live with extraordinary faith without withdrawing into a private, evangelical ghetto. Daniel and his three friends are a stirring example to us because, in the words of John Lennox, “they did not simply continue the private devotion to God that they had developed in their homeland. They maintained a high-profile public witness in a pluralistic society that became increasingly antagonistic to their faith.” This is the kind of courage we need: winsome courage. The courage that has the wisdom to be a blessing and to make a positive difference in a world-system that can be hostile toward our faith. And the courage to embrace that which is good, beautiful, and true in our culture without compromising godliness. As Pastor Patrick says, “Somehow we have to embrace but not compromise, resist but still appreciate, enjoy but not go overboard. God is present in every society. All societies have elements that ring out--God created all things good and this world is fallen.”
As we prepare to preach through Daniel in our Sunday morning worship services, let me encourage you to do two things:
- Watch this video (8 minutes, 54 seconds) from The Bible Project on the book of Daniel--it’ll give you a great pictorial overview of the book: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9cSC9uobtPM.
- Read the book of Daniel repeatedly. The more you read it, the more its holy, inspired message will instill courage and fortitude in you to live boldly and confidently for Christ in our culture.
The old Sunday School song wasn’t bad when it charged us, “Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone!” But even better, to know the One who stands with us when we walk through the fire, so that we will not be burned--and to be emboldened by his promise, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me … And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18, 20).