I am on vacation until August 5th. While away I will post some of my notes from a series I did on Daniel…..
There was a survey done in England about teenagers and cell phones. They took ten teenagers and took away their cell phones for one week.
What do you happened? Their lives degenerated into chaos. They were unable to communicate with each other – they did not know where to meet each other – their lives literally fell apart.
They would arrange meeting places and meeting times only minutes before they got together – sometimes changing the meeting place or time by text. Their life was so flexible that without a cell phone you would be unable to know where your friends were going to meet.
They had come to rely completely upon their cell phones – much more than they thought.
This got me thinking – What would happen if we had no computers, or if televisions stopped working – what would we do.
Think about the times when the power goes out, maybe in the middle of your favorite show. How do you feel when there is no power in your house. Helpless – frustrated – nothing works, no tv, no internet, no air, no lights. We basically grind to a halt and wait for the power to come back.
We have become reliant upon things haven’t we.
But what about our faith in Jesus.
What do we rely on for your faith? What keeps our faith going?
For some of us its youth group – for others it’s the Bible – for others it’s social events – friends – family – church – trips – music – diocesan events.
What would happen to your faith in Jesus Christ – to your Christianity – if you were not allowed to read your Bible, or to go to Church or to go to youth group or to any diocesan events?
Would you be able to sustain your faith for the next 25 years?
Would you be able to still know God, worship God, pray to God and recite scripture and grow in your faith without church, youth group, a bible, devotionals, worship music, Christian videos? What would happen if all the props of Christianity were removed from your life?
What would happen if everything was stripped away and all that was left was YOU and your RELATIONSHIP with God.
Would we discover that actually our faith in God is tied up with going to youth group, to going to church or going to Camp or having devotionals, or listening to music. Might we discover that these extra props of our life as a Christian have become the source of our faith rather than tools of our faith.
This is exactly the question that Daniel discovered when his country was attacked and taken over by Babylon.
Daniel was suddenly faced with a life where everything he had relied upon religiously was gone – his temple was gone – his ritual was gone – his sacrifices was gone – his way of life and daily devotions were gone – as was his freedom!!
Not only that, but Daniel’s whole world had been shaken because when Babylon defeated Israel – it appeared to have defeated God – Yahweh. A smashed Israel equated with a smashed Yahweh.
In Daniel’s day when a country beat another country the underlying message was – “My God has beaten your God – nanananana”. If your country prospered then your god was strong – if your country did not propser and was weak then o was your god.
He had to wear new cloths – he was given a new name and he was in a place where all trace of his belief and faith were GONE!!
He was an insignificant minority in a culture that saw his belief system as a waste of time.
How would your faith hold up to that?
That’s what Daniel and his friends faced as they were force out of their country into a new life.
But Daniel discovered something about God as he began to live away from everything he had known – he came to realize that God was a God 2 Go God. That God was able to exist outside the temple, outside the ritual, outside the daily devotions.
Daniel realized that God was a portable God – he came to Babylon with the Israelites.
Not only that but Daniel was re-trained, re-educated and re-named – everything about them changed as they – externally – but the one thing the Babylonians could not do was change someone internally.
And what you are like Internally depends upon what you have feed yourself with in the past – it rings to the surface what you truly believe to be true.
Daniel had been a good jew – he had been diligent in studying the torah – he knew the words of God – he knew the words of God SO well that they were a part of his DNA.
And so when EVERYTHING else about his faith was taken away he still was able to fall back on what knew to be true – and that the Babylonians could not change.
This meant that Daniel could LEARN all the Babylonian philosophy, all the Babylonian religion, all the Babylonian law – he learns them with excellence, but they mean nothing to him. He was not assimilated by it nor changed by it – it was knowledge, not life.
So, I ask again, what would happen if all the externals stuff of your Christianity was taken away from you – could you survive as a Christian. Would, or is the culture engulfing you, assimilating you.
To some extent you and I are like Daniel. We live in an alien culture – its alien compared to the words and commands of God. It is alien because it does not recognize the supremacy of Jesus. And not to recognize the supremacy of Christ is not to be fully human. Life cannot be lived to its fullest without Christ at the center.
And we have a choice in how we live as believers in this culture – we can either be assimilated by it or we can understand it but do not let it become apart of who we are.
In the one area that Daniel was able to show loyalty to God he does – food – he does not defile himself but eats vegetables.
In this culture, in the culture of iphones and Macs and Wii’s and playstation 3, of what clothes you must wear to be cool, or what shoes to have, or msic to play, were are you taking the stand against culture – where are you showing yourself to be loyal to Yahweh?
Or are we so assimilated into the culture that we have become unrecognizable? Because if that is true then we have lost.
If you claim to be a believer in Jesus Christ then you must be 100% committed.
Now when I say 100% committed I do not mean that you are perfect. When people say are you 100% committed to God it sounds an impossible task for there are days when I do not feel 100% committed.
But I heard a story which helped me get a better understanding. There was a teenager who at school was a good student: A’s and B’s. Then all of a sudden they started to slip and they started to get 70% in tests and the teach took the student aside and said “hey, whats the problem, you’re a great student, you can do better than this – give me a 100%.”
Well, the student did not get better, and sadly the teacher watched a great student get mediocre to bad grades.
About 10 years later that Student, who was now a writer for Time Magazine, saw his teacher as a reunion and went over and said to her, “Thank you for all your encouragement. But you know, when I was in your class, my home life was a bad place. My dad had left home and my mom was an alcoholic and I had to look after my little brother at night time and couldn’t study. I tried my hardest. the 70% was, at that time, my 100%.”
Is you 70%, or 80% or even 65% the 100% of what you have NOW!
Daniel had no middle ground to walk it was either total assimilation or total commitment to God. I am sure he had doubts, and was angry and sometimes confused and may have wanted to give up. But he gave God what he had.
Give God what you have!
We must stop having one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the world. We need to stop putting our relationship with God third on our list of things to do – we need to stop spending our money on what we want and instead on what God wants – we need to stop thinking we can get way with the private things we do that we know God is not pleased about and start to REALLY live a life open and honest before god and before our culture – and that means at school as well!