Stay the Course
By Chris Rathbone
The true church has a great challenge before her. The challenge isn’t much different than what God’s people have dealt with from the beginning. The challenge is how do we as God’s people navigate this ungodly world and stay true to our convictions as believers? This world, especially in the last few decades here in our nation, seems to have gone on a rampage when it comes to pressuring the church to compromise. The church is hated for its stand on the authority of the Scriptures, the exclusiveness of Christ as the only way of salvation, life in the womb, and same-sex marriage. While these aren’t the only issues the world hammers on, these seem to be the ones that are attacked most in mainstream media and liberal governments. The call to not be offensive, to compromise for the sake of a so-called unity and inclusiveness, has increased exponentially especially in the last decade. Pressure on the church to give in and allow doctrines and theology that are contrary to the Scripture will only increase in these last days. Conservative Christians are ridiculed, ostracized, threatened, and in many cases persecuted both verbally and sometimes physically by those who claim tolerance and acceptance. The sad part is, that many claim Christianity and association with the church who have given in to the pressure and are now proclaiming a false gospel that not only tolerates whatever sin is popular in the culture, but they have begun to promote it. There is no call to repentance, no call to be born again, no call to follow Jesus in the paths of righteousness. The goal of these false preachers and churches seems to be that they want acceptance in the world but could care less about being accepted by Christ or striving to follow His word.
Daniel chapter 1 contains a perfect example of God’s people feeling the pressure of compromise. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Judah and Jerusalem. The people were carried away into captivity to a foreign land. The plan that the king had for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah was to change them into Babylonians. They were given Babylonian names and put into Babylonian schools to indoctrinate them to become Babylonians in identity, education, religion, etc. The goal was to get them to forsake the God of their fathers, their people, the one and only true God, and accept the false gods, culture, and practices of the Babylonians. Because of the educational background of Daniel and his friends, they were perfect candidates for this indoctrination. The plan was to feed them the food of a wicked culture, teach them in the educational system, and basically change their identity so that they will deny their Creator and accept the false gods of the world around them.
Verse 8 of Daniel chapter 1, however, is a game-changer. The Bible says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the kings meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
Daniel had made a decision beforehand that would affect the future. The phrase “purposed in his heart” means he had made up his mind. The end result was that because they stayed true to God they were blessed. Matter of fact, they were healthier and wiser than anyone else that had gone through the king’s process of indoctrination. Ten times better in health and wisdom according to verse 20!
Now most of us are very familiar with the story of the fiery furnace and the den of lions from which God delivered these men. However, I believe that had they not taken a stand in chapter 1, they would never have been able to stand strong when faced with a fiery furnace or den of lions.
You see, today’s compromise is tomorrow’s weakness and failure. Truly, as we see the hate this world has for true Christians growing in these last days, it is more important than ever that we have a made-up mind. Every time we compromise and give in to this wicked world, it will make it easier to give in the next time. God strengthens his people when they choose faithfulness to Him. He honors our faithfulness with His faithfulness. When we stand strong today, trusting God to help us, it prepares us even more for when we need to stand strong the next time.
Now more than ever church, we must stay the course!
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.
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