Last week Steve preached on remembering, rebuilding, and revival. The people of Israel had recently come back to their homeland and they needed a reminder of who they were. They needed to rebuild upon the foundation that their forefathers had built upon. It was both a time of joy and sorrow. Building on that, I want to ask…
How does revival happen during times of struggle?
There were a band of young men who went into captivity with the first wave of Israelite slaves. They were young men of nobility. They had not been injured in the war and they were intelligent and wise. Their names were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known by their Babylonian names as Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Truth time: I have been reading in Daniel and it has been convicting me. I want us to think about the hostile environment they found themselves in:
1. Foreigners against their will
2. Workers in a dead-end job (literally)
a. Language barrier
b. Dress-code barrier
c. Identity barrier
This is what is convicting to me. Those young men:
1. Received and accepted new names
2. Learned a new language and a new dress-code
3. Took on government jobs (serving an ego-maniac)
You may think, “Well, they had to do those things.” Why? Why did they “have” to do those things? Couldn’t they have chosen to rebel? Couldn’t they have protested? They could have died, right? However, what they did do was show great humility in a time of tremendous stress. What they did do was shine the truth about their God in a deadly, hostile environment. What’s convicting is this: It seems as though their approach wasn’t reclusion or self-preservation, but faithful assimilation.
If you are a Christian, you are a foreigner against your will. That’s why we pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” That’s why Paul says, “It’s better for me to go and be with Jesus.” Everything about what it means to be Christian is counter-cultural. And that’s tough. People look at you differently when you identify as a Christian. There are language barriers and dress-code barriers. But how do we show revival in hostile environments during times of struggle? Do we say “the world is going to hell-in-a-hand-basket” and give in to reclusion and self-preservation? Or, do we faithfully assimilate for the cause of Christ? Aaaaand this is my shameless plug for Bobby Steed’s & Chris Jeter’s class – Dwelling in the World: A New Evangelism.