A little over a week ago I was at a meeting that my local Baptist association was holding. I was enjoying fellowshipping with others who are in the spiritual trenches fighting the good fight in sharing the Gospel of Jesus with others who still need to hear.
As I was fellowshipping and sharing I was also listening to other conversations, a pastime I enjoy doing, when I heard a comment from a pastor sharing how one of his church members was not able to share Jesus at his work because it was in a public workplace and he would lose his job (i.e. school, courthouse, etc.).
Now, I’ve heard this kind of comment before and it’s never really settled too well with me, but this time it really bothered me. I’m not sure why, but it did. I thought about it all week long. It was just simmering there – not a hot and boiling frustration just a niggling frustration that wouldn’t go away. It also got me thinking about when should we as Christians exercise civil disobedience. When is it appropriate for Christians to stand up against the judges, the courts and the social order of the day and say, “No, I will not obey”?
I was reading through the Book of Daniel when something really began to stick out to me from two different narratives in Daniel. Both of the narratives deal with not compromising; one by doing something you know you are not supposed to do, and the other by not doing what you know you are supposed to do.
The first narrative involves Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The King built a huge golden statue and commanded everyone to bow down and worship it or be thrown into the fiery furnace. We all know the story. They chose not to obey and as a result were thrown into the furnace. They chose to obey God and not do what they were supposed to do by law and they were saved! HOW COOL IS THAT?!
The second narrative involves Daniel himself. This time the King was tricked into making a decree allowing no one to pray during a certain period of days except to the god of the king punishable by being thrown into the lion’s den. Again, we know this story and how Daniel not only did pray to the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but he also did it with the windows wide open in full view of everyone. He didn’t choose to pray in secret behind some closed doors. He didn’t make it a private matter. No, he openly and publically chose to disobey the king’s decree. Why? Daniel was more willing to die in the lion’s den than he was to disgrace his God by choosing to be silent. Choosing to pray privately would have given the appearance of compliance to the decree and Daniel wanted there to be no doubt as to his allegiance to his God.
NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MISSIONAL LIVING! That’s what it looks like to be totally sold out to God and His Son Jesus Christ!
I’m left wondering in today’s modern society where are our uncompromising Daniels? Where are the followers of Christ who refuse to compromise their faith, by curbing or curtailing their speech because a rule or law has been enacted by faithless people? Where are those Christians who are willing to openly share Jesus without apology even if it means they might lose their job? Where are those men and women of God who are willing to stare into the fiery furnace, hot and blazing, and say to the King (president, judge, or even the Supreme Court),
Let it be known that we are more than confident that our God is able to save us from the punishment you have pronounced upon us but also know this, even if God chooses not to deliver us we will not compromise!
Where are you, people of God? Child of God – why do you need permission from men to do what God has already commanded you to do? When are you going to stop buckling under the tyranny of people who only wish to silence you?
Let us use Daniel and his three companions as our example of how to stand up to a society that is Godless! Remember this Daniel could never have been delivered from the lion’s den unless he was first thrown into the lion’s den. His three companions could never have been delivered from the fiery furnace unless they were first thrown into it. You will never experience God’s power to deliver you unless you are willing to place yourself in a position that needs His deliverance. So, when is it appropriate to exercise civil disobedience? When society and the laws of the land tell you that you must to do something that God has clearly said you cannot do or when you are told by government you cannot do something that God has already commanded you to do. Obey God – not men!
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