Friday, October 13, 2006

Minds on Fire: Daniel 1

Daniel 1

Christ was once asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was. His response, which he said encompassed all the Law and the Prophets, included the directive to love God with all our minds. We don’t always take time to look into what this means, but it is clear that we should. Scripture declares the importance of the life of our minds, and our lives should reflect that result. We should have minds on fire for God.

So what does a mind on fire look like? The story of Daniel and his friends gives us a great gateway into this question. As the book of Daniel opens we find that he and his friends have been forcibly removed from an enviable position in Jerusalem. They were among the best of their day, well educated, and probably on their way to positions of influence in Judah. They are described this way:

“Israelites from the royal family and nobility—young men who were healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions in the government, perfect specimens!—and indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortunetelling.” (vs. 3-4, Message)

So why did God lead them into exile? Well, we have already answered the question. God needed people of strong character, faith, and who had exercised their minds in positions of power in Babylon. Not just anybody could influence the courses of two major world empires.

This is the first lesson of minds on fire for God: God can use them! Daniel’s exile is no punishment or divine neglect—it is strategic positioning. It is exactly because Daniel had a developed and alert mind that God was able to use him to do things many of his contemporaries simply were not.

The second and third lessons are in the story of Daniel and his friends refusing the Babylonian food in favor of a kosher diet. They did not want to risk eating food or drinking wine that had been sacrificed to pagan gods or was simply against their dietary laws, so they requested a diet of nothing but vegetables and water.

We all want to be faithful to God when the pressure or confusion comes, and that is a laudable sentiment. But as we see in Daniel, not only did he desire to be faithful, he knew how to do it. Because Daniel’s mind was fixed on his God he knew exactly what to do when the time came.

Then, as a result, Daniel and his friends were found to be ten times better than everyone else. Living in accord with their faith and worldview lead to lives that flourished. They were not exempt from struggle and persecution, but they flourished as they conformed their lives to the laws and will of God.

Finally, Daniel changed his world. God used a man who developed his capacities to their maximum to literally move the hearts of kings and nations. Minds on fire change things!

Is this love for God a little neglected in my life? Have I even paid attention to what it looks like for me in my situation? Take another step toward fulfilling the greatest commandment, and begin to develop a mind that loves its God deeply and powerfully. Maybe God can use you to change something.

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