I’m sure you all are aware that political discourse in our country has become increasingly acrimonious and vapid. Both sides of the political spectrum hurl invective at one another. Demagoguery abounds. Politicians deal in platitudes, and the citizenry is both polarized and distrustful of the authorities like never before.
As a Christian man, I may disagree vehemently with a given political party or an individual candidate. But, biblically, that does not give me license to behave hatefully toward them, or to default to believing the worst about them. Rather, I’m called to honor them, to pray for them, to regard them as stewards who are ultimately chosen by God to faithfully discharge the office they hold. And I believe I’m called to do what I can to help them steward that position faithfully. Sometimes that involves the prophetic responsibility of calling them to account, as the OT prophets often did with the kings, but I won’t get into that here.
I think Daniel’s example is particularly instructive. Think about his situation:
- He was forcibly taken into exile. He had suffered injustice at the hands of Babylon.
- Babylon was a pagan culture that did not recognize the Living God or follow His ways.
- Nebuchadnezzar was a pompous man with a bad temper and a lust for power, and yet Daniel, a man of God, had been involuntarily pressed into his service.
Daniel was betwixt and between, to be sure. And he had every reason to disparage the Babylonians and their king, to wish for their downfall. But I see in Daniel a man who never compromised his faith in God while distinguishing himself in faithful, loyal service to an unholy culture. Even though the king didn’t govern rightly, you never see one ounce of disdain or disrespect coming from Daniel. Rather, you hear phrases like, “O King, may you live forever.” Daniel lived a no compromise life, but he had the honor and respect of those who didn’t know God. And God used his righteous tenacity to reveal Himself to Nebuchadnezzar, who transitioned from glorifying himself to recognizing that God is sovereign over the nations.
I wonder if that might not be a desirable paradigm for our present political culture. You may be happy about who’s in power right now. It may drive you crazy at the moment. But how would Daniel handle it?
Daniel 11:32 states that those who know their God shall be strong and do great exploits in His name. Perhaps that captures the secret of the remarkable life Daniel lived. For my own part, I’m both convicted and inspired by his example. And I pray that our culture is flooded with Daniels in this crucial, desperate hour.
I intend to be one of them.