Facing Lions

14 So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish;

2 Peter 3:14

What a wonderful encouragement from Peter, a disciple who knew what it was to live alongside Jesus, who knew what it was to fail and fall and be restored and forgiven. He could have pointed to Daniel as an example of one who lived without flaw and blemish. Daniel had been appointed to a high office, with the prospect of ruling the entire empire for Darius, because he was such a sterling character.

This appointment did not sit well with the other leaders, so the governors and officers tried to find reasons to level charges against Daniel for the way he supervised the kingdom. Though they tried, they could find no basis for charges or any corruption in his office. Daniel was loyal and attentive in his duties.

Daniel 6:4 

They decided the only way to get rid of this ‘saint’ was to use his obedience to God’s laws.

I’m sure you know the account of how Daniel refused to stop praying to God when Darius was tricked into making a law forbidding prayer to any god except Darius. How Daniel was thrown into a den of starving lions only to walk out of it unscathed when an angel shut the mouths of the lions to keep Daniel safe. It’s a story that children (and adults) love.

I suspect if we thought about it more we’d be less likely to love it. Peter knows he will soon be executed for his faith, he’s seen his friends martyred and warned the readers in his first letter about coming persecution. Nothing has changed since Daniel’s day. When people see our faith shining they start by admiring it. They want to be bright, clean, pure and many will be attracted to follow Jesus because of that admiration. They recognise Him in us and come to find Him and love Him – and that’s the point of our witness of peace, love and joy. That’s why we grow in the fruits of the Spirit; it’s both for us and for them.

But some stop admiring and start hating. They will strive to tear us down, they want to destroy our peace, disprove our joy and turn our love to hatred. They ridicule us, mock us, try to humiliate us. Jesus said they would, Peter and the other writers warned their readers that it would happen and it did and does.

There are Christians across the world today being murdered, tortured, imprisoned, persecuted for their faith. We, here in Canada (the West) are lucky – our persecution is words, attitudes, mockery things we should be able to stand against. We have to stand and shine brightly for His sake and the sake of the Gospel and also remember to pray for those who are suffering in more painful, profound ways. We’re one body, one family.

Let’s support and encourage each other to let the Light of Christ shine and remember to pray for those for whom letting that Light shine can be a literal death sentence.

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