Yesterday, I was reading some commentary on Daniel. The lessons were so clear, plain to see just in the first half of the first chapter! Some quick background, these 'selected' young men in whom there was no blemish, good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. They were to have the same food and wine prepared for the king, intended as a special honor. The king changed his name Daniel (meaning God is my judge) to Belteshazzar (meaning Bel’s prince). In addition, they were to have three years of training for them. The purpose of the food, names and education was simple. This was an effort at total indoctrination, working to make these young Jewish men leave behind their Hebrew God and culture. Undoubtedly, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to communicate to these young men, “look to me for everything".
But, Daniel "purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies" - he went on to explain the spiritual basis for his stand. He made up his mind beforehand that he would not compromise. His protest was courteous and courageous. He made a polite request, showing discretion while making a stand for God. Self-denial must be sought. Daniel and his friends knew this would cost them something, yet they were willing to do it anyway. The test must be boldly put. Its important that people know what you believe by what you say and do so there is no confusion to who God is! Why bring all this up.......
The king Nebucadnezzer used the same strategy as satan uses on both believers and non-believers today, enticing us into the world system:
*Feed on what the world offers
*Identify (“name”) ourselves in reference to the world
*Educate ourselves in the ways of the world
Without going into detail, I willingly participated in all three above. It left me empty, without purpose and a separation from the living God the size of the Grand Canyon! In the eyes of the world, I seemingly 'had it going on.' That's until the gospel traveled to me as intended by God from the beginning of time...through His people. Filled up, with a different purpose and with Him and His people walking alongside me, the path and environment looks different. See, we tend to focus on the practical, reasonable and temporal things in life using words like religious, spiritual. This world blinds us to the distinction between the difference of being a 'new creation in Christ' and the natural state we were we were born into and inheirited thanks to Adam. So, plainly, coming to Christ is the result of the work of God for the individual, not the individual for God or himself! It's easy to get sucked in on both sides of God's Kingdom! His power is available.
This weekend, the PE teacher on the foundation will be using our facilities, minus power and water, for a retreat. He asked me to speak to the kids on friday night about my relationship with Christ (in spanish). Sure, I will give them some details but I will do my best to encourage them that:
- This world no longer defines me by my abilities, weaknesses , successes, failures nor by any name
- No king, president, political party or movement will garner my worship or affection
- Whether in the valley or on the mountaintop, I will 'look to Him for everything': from humility to strength
- Our address posted on the outside wall of the Campamento is both temporal and temporary
- I will choose to live this life not for me, but 'to the Glory of God'. I am grateful He gives me that freedom, without compulsion! That alone demonstrates the stark contrast with His plan and the world system.
"even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many"