Connecting With Non-Believers
As a believer, how are you supposed to navigate in this world where you are clearly the minority? How does God feel about your workplace and the folks you rub shoulders with every day? How should you handle the times when your faith places you in direct conflict with the values of those around you?
To find answers to questions like these the book of Daniel is where we need to look. This Judean, part of the Jerusalem’s nobility, was ripped from home at the age of about fourteen and become an exile in the most powerful city in the Ancient Middle East.
In the first episode of his story, we saw King Nebuchadnezzar trying to change his identity and turn him into a Babylonian. Daniel was willing to learn and to excel in the literature and core curriculum of Babylonian culture, but he was not willing to disobey the food laws of Leviticus. He maintained his belief in the God of Israel, but in order to obey, he didn’t rebel and throw a hunger strike. Instead, he had become his Babylonian overseer’s friend and presented an "I win, you win” experiment that enabled his friend to keep his head and for Daniel to keep his faith. He also worked hard in his three-year crash education and beat them at their own game by being ten times better than his Babylonian peers.
In the second episode Daniel’s God given ability in dream interpretation saved not only his life but also the lives of Mishael, Azariah, and Hananiah. Daniel showed wisdom and restraint as he maneuvered the deadly minefields of his boss’s erratic temper.
Now in this Episode Nebuchadnezzar has just told us the contents of his second dream. Now any idiot could figure out that the dream was not bringing good news to the king. The tough issue was to connect each part of the dream with the right real life person and scenario, and to share with the king some steps he might be able to take to hold off the disaster. But before Daniel does all this, he gives us a glimpse into his feelings toward the pagan king he has now served for more than thirty years.
“’This is the dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now, Belteshazzar, make known to me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me but you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’ Then Daniel (also named Belteshazzar) was appalled for a short time and the thoughts in his mind frightened him. So the king said, ‘Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream or its interpretation frighten you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its interpretation to your adversaries?’” Daniel 4:18-19
It’s clear that the long years of working together in governing the empire have brought the king and his Judean official together. They care for each other though Nebuchadnezzar is still a polytheist, believing in the gods, and addressing Daniel, as we would expect, with his Babylonian name. But Daniel’s alarm when he realizes what the dream means indicates that he does not treat Nebuchadnezzar as his enemy. And again Nebuchadnezzar testifies that he sees evidence of the “spirit of the gods” being expressed through Daniel’s life.
This convicts me that it is not what my brothers and sisters in Christ see in me on a Sunday morning or even while I teach at Southern Bible Institute and College. It’s what my friends who haven’t yet trusted in Jesus see in me as we eat in restaurants, go to ballgames, or work on city projects together.
LORD, help me not to let the loud cries of the Culture War extremes to cause me to start to label those who have not yet received your Son as my enemy. Help me not to separate from them, but to be like Daniel, fully engaged for years in the real world side by side with those you want to influence through me. Give Mary and me new ways to break out of our “born again” cocoon so that we can have real relationships with those who don’t believe like we do.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!