I got a surprising email the other day. We home school and are members of a home school legal defense organization. Emails are sent out on a weekly basis, informing the members about legal issues in the country affecting homeschooling. What got my attention last week was an email urging home school families to contact their congressional representatives to speak out against….health care reform?
I got a similar message through the mail a couple of weeks ago from a well-known organization that exists to promote Christian family values. This organization also was urging the citizenry to rise up against the health care reform currently being pursued in congress. The passage of this legislation would ruin the fabric of our society, the publication argued.
Talk radio personalities and their callers can’t seem to think about or discuss anything else. What surprises me is not that people oppose the legislation. To be perfectly honest, I oppose it. I would hate to see it become law. But what is striking is the doomsday picture of the future that many have envisioned if the legislation does succeed. Some believers, even the leaders of some Christian organizations, are acting as if socialized health care will mean the end of all hope. We seem to be losing sight of where our hope is to be found.
This morning I read Daniel chapter 1 and found it to be a very refreshing look at how a believer should live in the midst of undesireable circumstances. The opening verses tell us that in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, the Lord gave Jehoiakim into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the cream of the crop of the people of Judah should be brought to serve in the king’s palace.
It’s difficult for me to identify with such a scenario. I tried to imagine Canada invading the U.S. and taking over. (I know, but just pretend for a minute.) I tried to imagine a foreign military marching our streets and seizing our government. I tried to imagine being taken out of my home, away from my family - not knowing if I would ever see them again - and off into Canada to serve the Prime Minister. That is a very dark picture to me. Quite a bit worse than socialized health care. Yet that is the kind of situation in which Daniel found himself.
Daniel was among the “youths” taken to serve Nebuchadnezzar. The text tells us that the king ordered that all the youths should eat the same food he ate and drink the same wine that he drank (v5). But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank (v8). This was not a spirit of rebellion in Daniel. He was not determined to buck the system or to revolt against the king. His motive had nothing to do with any disdain that he had for Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel simply wanted to be faithful to the Lord. And God in His sovereignty protected Daniel for his faithfulness.
This becomes a major theme of the book of Daniel. No matter what the situation, no matter how daunting the circumstances, even in the face of certain death, Daniel only sought to be faithful to the Lord. HE didn’t seem to view his circumstances in terms of his own happiness or freedom. For Daniel, each circumstance provided another opportunity to be faithful and glorify the Lord.
Would he rather have been back in Jerusalem? Certainly. In ch9, when he determined based on Jeremiah’s prophecy that the exile might be approaching an end, Daniel prayed fervently that the Lord would lead His people back to Jerusalem (9:18). He wanted to go home. But even in this request, Daniel was motivated by a desire that the Lord be glorified (9:17).
We would benefit from that kind of God-centered view of our circumstances and responsibilities. God is in sovereign control of all things, and in all things He is bringing glory to Himself. No matter what the situation, we should place our hope fully in Him, striving to be faithful in everything. For those who have been redeemed, there should be no such thing as despair. If there is, that is a strong indication that we are not hoping in God, but in man.
Please understand that I am not saying Barack Obama is Nebuchadnezzar, nor that health care reform is divine punishment, nor that we as the United States are God’s chosen people. By referring to the Daniel passage, I have not intended to make any of those connections. I am just concerned at the despair in the eyes and voices of some believers in our country, and I believe we would do well to adopt the worldview and priorities that Daniel had.
While we are well within our biblical liberty to use whatever legal means we have at our disposal to promote or oppose actions taken by our government, we should not pin our hopes to any political cause nor strive for any goal with more vigor than that of being faithful. We are first and foremost citizens of heaven and our first priority should be to seek His kingdom and righteousness. If we will do that, no matter what happens in this country, we will never be despairing, but eagerly looking for how God is glorifying Himself and for how we can be faithful to Him right where we are.