In an effort to keep this blog fresh and consistently updated, we’ve decided as an executive leadership team to take turns posting every week. My name is Natalie, and this week it’s my turn! This is my first-ever post on the Wonderfully Made blog, aside from my guest post in January, and I’m excited to have more opportunities to share God’s truth with you!
We are all living in a modern-day Babylon, tried and tempted each day with the appealing pleasures of the world surrounding us. Do we serve our own desires, or do we pursue the will of our Creator and Redeemer? Do we bow down to the gods of our culture, or stay true to the One True God? Today I want to talk about standing firm in our faith while living in a culture that entices us with complete overindulgence and self-absorption.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been studying the book of Daniel with my small group, via the genius DVDs of Beth Moore. If you’ve never done one of her studies, I highly recommend it! Silly as she can be, she is one smart woman who knows her scripture!
The story of Daniel takes place in ancient Babylon, a city with a culture that is not unlike our American way of life. Babylon valued youth, beauty and wealth, and lived by the motto, “I am, and there is none besides me” (Isaiah 47:8). Each week as we study the book verse by verse, we continually see the battle Daniel and his friends–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednago–are fighting to remain culturally relevant without becoming spiritually irrelevant. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
As we’ve been immersing ourself in the scripture and praying for wisdom in our study, I can’t help but realize that my life right now is much like Daniel’s—and yours probably is too! I live in a city that is not my home, surrounded by people who worship different gods–like money, appearance, success, popularity, and of course, self.
In many ways, north county San Diego feels like the New Age capital of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good yoga class; but yoga is the way of life here. So many of the people I interact with and love in this city believe in the power within the self to make anything happen, and pursue total balance and control: control of the body, breath and mind. That sounds great, doesn’t it? Of course I’d love to create my own “perfect” world to live in and control everything in it. But that’s not real! We are not gods over our own lives; only the Lord is sovereign. Sure, we can live that way for a while, steeped deeply in the Babylonian mindset, “I am and there is none besides me,” but we will end up disappointed.
My home is with Christ and my God is the only One who satisfies, redeems and delivers, but it’s easy and tempting to think otherwise when the other options are so enticing and self-gratifying. My challenge is the same as Daniel’s: how do I stay true to my God and live with intergrity and humility when the culture around me is so overindulgent and self-serving?
Yesterday we studied Daniel 3, which is the story of The Fiery Furnace. During his reign over Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzer built a 90ft gold statue of himself and demanded that whenever his people heard the sound of “the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music” they were required to fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Anyone who disobeyed faced death by the fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego saw the furnace blazing, felt the heat and smelled the smoke, but they refused to bow down and worship:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
In the end, God saves them and his name is made more famous. While living in an idol-worshiping, self-absorbed culture, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego made God’s name KNOWN.
Our purpose—just like theirs was—is not to make our name greater, but to make Him known. “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).
I hope that is the mark I can leave on this city. May I become less and He become greater.