One of the boldest ways for me to proclaim my faith while in high school was to participate in Prayer at the Pole. This event is for Christian students to circle around their school’s flagpole to pray. It is at the beginning of the school day, so all of your peers will see you praying as they enter school. And every year this event came along, I debated my decision: I could go and pray with my fellow Christians and be perceived as a weirdo OR I could “accidentally sleep in” or “forget.” To be honest, this was my inner debate, and by the grace of God, I thankfully participated every year. Have there ever been times you’ve been tempted to hide your faith? Or maybe were there times when you did hide your faith, because you were worried of insults, looking weird, or possibly losing friends? We continue with our mini-series called “Faith in a Dangerous Place,” to discuss what our faith should look like when we find ourselves in spiritually dangerous situations.
Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that we discussed last week, Daniel was also one of the “best and brightest” captives that King Nebuchadnezzar sent to Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Daniel was a faithful man of God, who was blessed with exceptional qualities - that eventually led him to be the third highest rank in Babylon. We pick up Daniel’s story in the book of Daniel, chapter six, where we read of his climbing of the ranks. He was in charge of overseeing about 40 governors in Babylon, but King Darius found Daniel to be so good at his job, that he planned for him to be in charge of all 120 governors; however, Daniel's subordinates and fellow commissioners did not want this to happen.
These wicked people knew they could find no corruption in Daniel, so they schemed a way to get him out of the picture. Knowing he was a man of faith, they made a plan to get the king to sign a rule that no one could worship any god other than the king for thirty days, and if they were caught doing so, they would be thrown into a lion’s den - and the king signed off on it. We read of Daniel’s faithfulness in Daniel 6:10,
“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”
Of course, because the schemers knew of Daniel’s faithfulness, they were just waiting for him to “slip up,” and when they heard his prayers to God, they ran off and told the king. King Darius, upon hearing this news, was greatly distressed because he really liked Daniel - and though he desired to save Daniel, he found himself cornered according to the law. So Daniel was thrown into the den of lions with a death sentence only God could prevent. After a restless night, the king rushed to the den of lions to see if Daniel’s God saved him. A miracle was made, and Daniel was found without a scratch. After the king found Daniel alive and well, he not only ordered the schemers to sleep with the lions, he has issued this decree, in verses 26-27:
“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
And verse 28 goes on to say how greatly Daniel prospered from the point.
What should our faith look like in spiritually dangerous places: open window! Daniel literally and metaphorically kept his faith window wide open. Daniel was well aware of the danger that would come his way if he continued his relationship with God that month. He could have easily closed his window when praying, prayed silently, or could’ve just taken a 30 day break from God altogether. Nope. He didn’t flinch in the face of danger - he wasn’t worried about people hearing him pray, people seeing him worship, and he certainly had no fear of a little lion’s den. And as a result: God provided a miracle, God’s name was proclaimed to all nations, and God caused Daniel to prosper greatly.
How will you have an “open window” faith? How will you have a faith that is open, honest, and transparent for your peers to see, not worried about being made fun of, looking “weird,” or losing friends… We must take encouragement from Daniel and his story, but also heed Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:14-16:
“You are the light of the world. A town build on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
How about reading your Bible at school, not worried about people seeing you? Do you thank God in prayer before eating your lunch? What do the things you post on social media glorify: yourself or God? When was the last time you invited a non-Christian to church? These are some ways to keep your faith at the forefront in a spiritually hostile world. Keep your faith an open window, because when it comes down to it, what are we afraid of: insults and looking weird? At least we don’t have to worry about being a ferocious lion’s dinner…