Daniel 1-2 Q&A
Here are some brief answers to our questions from our Sunday evening service. If you would like to discuss more, please call me or email at email@example.com.
How can we guard against judging others who "draw the line" different to us?
We do need to keep coming back to God's word. There are objective truths where we must all hold the same line and we do need to keep each other in check. But there are times when we must deal with our own God-guided conscience (see 1 Corinthians 10 for example). We must avoid the trap of feeling morally or theologically superior to other people or denominations. That is pride and it is sinful. Instead, we should be prayerfully and humbly considering where we draw our line, and how to help others draw the line of no compromise. It's easier perhaps not to sit in judgement on others if we remember our own failings and our own stumbling blocks.
If you played for Manly would you have worn the jersey? If not, what would you have told the coach and captain as to why not?
If I were to personally take a stand like this, I would certainly want to convey to those I report to (coach/captain) why I have done so. Would I have worn the jersey? That would depend on so many things: What was the jersey meant to represent? Why was I being asked to wear it? Did those reasons conflict with my own convictions and faith? To be honest, I am careful in judging what I hear from the mainstream media in these environments. I'm not always sure I am hearing the whole story. And if you get your updates from social media, we all know that those feeds are skewed by our own leanings and beliefs. They are not objective reporting. Be careful to rush into judgments or actions.
There are some principals at the centre here. If you play on a team, you sign up to wear the uniform. If that uniform is changed to represent something against your convictions, there is a need to step back and question it. We all have the freedom to do that.
Either way, this act by the Manly 7 has given a great opening for conversations about how we respect the different groups in our society with such a variety of beliefs, moralities and convictions. This is a time to listen, and not a time to judge. This is a time to be hearing the challenges people are facing in our culture today and listening with respect and empathy.
I look forward to hearing from those players themselves as to their reasons - not to judge them, but to listen and seek to understand. As Daniel did - with wisdom and tact. (Daniel 1:14)
How do we tell the difference between God disciplining his people (delivering them to their enemies) and broken-creation suffering? Are we being punished?
Old Testament - God judged his people and responded with punishment/reward.
New Testament - God has placed the wrath of his judgment for the whole world upon Jesus on the cross. And there will come a day when Jesus will return for one day of judgment - where we will be judged as to whether we have accepted Jesus' offer of forgiveness and made him our King, or if we chose to stand alone and face the judgment of our sin upon ourselves.
Until that day, we live in a broken and sinful world where children die in poverty and evil people get rich and powerful. We live in a world of suffering and pain and injustice. This is not God's punishment. This is his mercy and patience - that we might see the need for rescue and turn to him before that final day.
Today, for the Christian, God disciplines us like a loving Father disciplines a child. Like a shepherd shepherds their sheep - with love and correction, gentle rebuke and loving encouragement. Here's a great passage for this topic:
4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,6because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Does this drawing the line only apply to individuals only or does it relate to churches in any way too?
Both. Certainly, as individuals, our culture and experience, our faith and our own circumstances may guide us to draw different lines from other Christians. But some of our lines will all be the same. The way we practice our sexuality, the way we love our neighbour... but as a church, we also need to draw lines together. the big line should always be faithfulness to God and his Word. The authority of Scripture should be an objective line in the sand. I imagine as a church, the lines we draw are more objective, applying to everyone within. As individuals, there may be subjective lines of compromise we sometimes draw. For example: should I take that promotion at work? should I pursue that particular career? Should I join in that Melbourne cup sweep at work? Should I spend my money on this or that...
How do we decide when to compromise and when to resolve not to compromise?
Check with God - through his word, in prayer by the Spirit, with his people. Do what Daniel did - talk to your friends and pray together - that covers all the bases! Prayer is our first stop. Then listen to God. Maybe some "check" questions are helpful:
Does this help my faith?
Does this glorify and honour Jesus?
Does this strengthen the church?
Is this a good witness to those around me?
Practical tips for being "in the culture" but not "owning the culture"?
A few quick ideas:
- Always have a Christian friend you can check in with.
- Regularly check your priorities. Are you skipping out on the important things for your faith?
- Do a 6-month faith review - where is your faith now, compared to 6 months ago?
Daniel did not do this alone - he walked with his friends. He was thoughtful and prayerful, wise and tactful.
See the video with a helpful list from Anna - diagnostic questions to ask ourselves. From 1:21:00
Sometimes people think we are judging them when we are not. How can we have clear communication around this?
We do need to be thoughtful about our language. The words we use. The way we communicate. It is more important than ever. We live in a society where people are often easily offended. Sometimes that is unavoidable, but often, it is. Being "right" might be nice, but what is the point if no one cares to listen to us? Like Daniel, we need to be humble and thoughtful with our words, especially when being a part of a minority culture.
What to do when compromising could cost you your friends, family or job because they think you are ‘just a bible basher’?
it is not easy. But if Jesus is King of our lives, we do need to trust his rule over our lives and the consequences for that. Despite Daniel's best efforts, he often landed in trouble and near death. If our family and friends consider us a "Bible-basher", that may not be a bad thing - at least they know where we stand. But if they find us so annoying that they will not listen, perhaps we have to reassess our approach. People are often called Bible bashers because they do more talking than listening. Maybe the first thing is to turn that around - to be known as a person who listens. It's amazing how much people love to hear from people who listen to them!
Will God forgive us, even though we act like the Israelites: we step over the line, reach out for salvation in crisis, then forget Him in comfort?
God is always able to forgive when we turn to him in repentance. We are, like Israel, often very fickle in our faith. But God is kind. We should not take that kindness for granted, however. If we do, we are missing out on the best in life - remembering God in times of comfort is a great place to be!
This is an example of stumbling on Jesus’ “the plank in your eye vs speck in other’s”. Is He saying we can’t judge others, as we will only have our own measure?
That's a great reference. Jesus is pointing here to the nature of us as judges.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We can be so focussed on other people's shortcomings, that we neglect to see our own. We are often hypocrites in this respect. We cannot be the judge of others. That is God's role. But we are called as Christians to hold each other to account - with love and respect and understanding. Later in Matthew, hear what Jesus teaches on this:
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
You referred to Israel as once a world superpower. I assumed they were always on the small size. Are you referring to the era of Solomon and his wealth?
In King David's time, in 1 Chronicles 21, it was reported that David took a census of Israel's population. There were 1.1 million fighting men. 470,000 were in Judah (1 Chronicles 21:5). However, this census was seen as an evil thing. Israel's strength was never about its number or size. It was always about God's power. Israel often had a smaller army and defeated huge numbers because of God's intervention. The book of Joshua tells of such huge victories - not by numbers but by God's power. Israel was not always small in number, but they were for many years the superpower - unable to be defeated because of the power of God.
Do these verses indicate we should all be vegetarian so we can better understand God's word
This is not an uncommon thought! But it does avoid the big idea - the Jewish people had no problem eating meat. However, for Daniel, the objection was to food "from the King's table". For whatever reason this is - and possibly it is because of the symbolism of sharing food from someone's table meaning you are aligned with them in every way - David chose simply not to eat food from the King's table and have vegetables instead.
There are better arguments for Christians to consider vegetarianism. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is to consider the stewardship of the earth and the sustainability of farming animals for meat. But Daniel 1 won't really assist in a vegetarian debate - theres' just not quite enough information in the passage to sustain from what I can see.
Also, see Acts 10 and God's revelation to the apostle Peter about all foods being "clean" to eat.
Q and A is from 1:16:00