It is our first week back to school for these middle school students and it is always fun to see who is excited to be back and who is dreading the school-year to come. This year is the first time in 2 years that I myself will be facing this same set of emotions (as I am starting my first semester at Talbot seminary). I reflect back to when I was a freshman in college, and I remember having a massive amount of nerves and anxiety before my first week of school. I was shy and I only knew one person as I entered into my first year of school at Concordia. To make things more difficult, I was one of three freshman who were joining the lacrosse team that year. These emotions were building and my nerves were growing by the day, but that all changed when I was introduced to a guy named Josh Fagan.
Josh was the captain of the lacrosse team and he was the first person I met at Concordia. Josh gave me a warm welcome and proceeded to take me out to coffee the following week. Josh was one of the nicest guys I had ever met and he did his best to include everyone. On the field Josh was a leader and by far the hardest working individual on the team. He was the perfect example of what a captain should be and I looked up to him for that.
My senior year of college I was given the honor of being voted the new team captain by my fellow team-mates. As I went about leading the team, I constantly reflected back to Josh’s example and challenged myself to be the type of captain that he was for me. I was blessed to have a role model like him and because of his example was able to lead my team very effectively.
As we finish up our series in the book of Daniel, I want us to view Daniel through this same lens of being a role model. Daniel is a perfect example for living as people of faith in a world that pressures us to lose that faith. As we read his story there are many things we can learn, but there are three things specifically that I want us to focus on and try to replicate.
In Daniel chapter 6 we get to read the famous story of Daniel in the lions den. When we look at this chapter closely we begin to learn what the daily life of Daniel looked like and we can be greatly benefited if we aim to replicate his lifestyle. Early in the chapter we read that Daniel was loved by the King and he was soon to be promoted to the top spot in Babylon. This promotion angered other government officials and they set out to destroy Daniel and his reputation. These officials ran into a problem however, in their attempt to defame Daniel they stated “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” (Dan 6:5).
We see clearly that the first lesson from Daniel’s life is that we should take the Word of God seriously. Daniel not only daily devoted himself to reading God’s word, but he made sure to live out the commands of God. We can often forget the importance of reading God’s word. In our day and age, reading your Bible can easily fall in line with a long list of other tasks that we must do to be “good christians”. This should not be the case. We need to constantly remind ourselves that this book is the Word of the Living God and that it is essential to our daily walk with Him. Let us never forget that reading the Bible is an unbelievable gift that fuels our relationship with God and never see it as a burden that we check off our list of to-do’s.
The second thing we can learn from Daniel is the importance of prayer. The jealous government officials devise a plan to trap Daniel by tricking the king into creating a law that stated no one in Bablyon could pray to any god, other than the king, for 30 days. If you disobey this new law, the punishment was being thrown into the den of lions.
Upon hearing this new decree, Daniels immediate response was retreating to his home, opening the window, and praying to God just as he had done every day. We see that Daniel valued prayer so highly that he devoted three separate times every day to come home and get on his knees before God. Daniel viewed prayer as an essential part to his life and the thought of going even one day without prayer wasn’t an option. We can learn a lot from this example and I feel it is wise for each of us to reflect on how we view prayer to God on a daily basis.
The final lesson from Daniel that I would like to focus on is the idea that Daniel never made any attempt to hide his faith. From the beginning of the book to the end, we read of Daniel standing up for his faith when many would rather shy away. There were moments where Daniel could have stayed quite and practiced his faith in secrecy or in his own space, but Daniel had the resolve to decide that he would never let the fear of man or the fear of an uncomfortable situation stop him from following God. Daniel may have been attacked for his faith, he may have been seen by some as foolish, but many people who witnessed Daniel live out his faith were forever changed by it.
When we stand strong in our faith, we have the opportunity to witness to the world about the amazing power found in Our God alone. When we fight to go against the flow of culture, people will notice the difference in us. Some may see us as fools, some may mock our faith, but some people may see for the very first time the love and power of Our God. For this reason, we must strive to live out the example of Daniel in our daily lives, for when we live against the flow we have the opportunity to leave an impact that lasts an eternity.