Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Distinguished Yet Persecuted

Yesterday I wrote about Daniel's distinguished service but today I want us to focus on the fact that he was persecuted. When his political peers and underlings found out about King Darius' plan to put him in charge of the kingdom they were not pleased and they immediately set out to discredit him. But try as they might, they could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy, and neither corrupt nor negligent. What a testimony! He was neither guilty of wrongdoing nor could they find evidence of inept mismanagement.

As a result Daniel's excellent service leads them to cross the line between what we know today as "church and state." I realize that this is a totally anachronistic statement because such a distinction would have been unknown in Daniel's day, but we understand what it means. Daniel's opponents come to the impish conclusion that they will never find any basis for charges against him, unless it has something to do with the law of his God.

We should learn from this that doing a good job, even an excellent job, does not mean that everyone will like or respect you. This is especially true if you are a Christian and you are trying to please the Lord. Persecution is a reality for Christians, and no matter how we try to avoid it, we will ruffle some feathers eventually, and when we do, we can expect trouble.

Have you ever wondered why? When we look at the bigger picture we find that this is not the first, nor the last time, the enemies of God have conspired against his faithful servants. Prior to Daniel, people like Abel, Moses, David and then after him the prophets, all suffered persecution of one sort or another. We we must not forget the ultimate persecution was that of the Lord Jesus, who was hounded to death but not for crimes that he had done. My point is that persecution finds its ultimate explanation in a cosmic struggle between "the seed of the woman" and "the seed of the serpent" that goes all the way back to the fall in the garden of Eden.

Daniel's foes quickly figure out that they must turn Daniel's faith and spirituality into a political liability if they are to remove him from office. And once again we are reminded of words that would be spoken many years later... "From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jesus kept shouting, 'If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar'" (John 19:12). It is an old technique and often very effective. It is part of a hatred of God that is too frequently directed at his people.

To be continued...

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