Daniel 5:1-6, 23-28 | Amos 8:4-8
In the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the story of Daniel, and thinking about what that story might have to say to us as we seek to live faithfully as God’s people in a society which doesn’t always share our faith or values.
We’ve talked about the simple decision that lay at the heart of Daniel’s life – the decision that, though he could no longer live in the land God had given his people, or even live amongst his own people, he would remain faithful, he would remain a Jew, even in the minority. The same decision that has to lie at the core of our faithfulness – that even if the world around us does not live in obedience to God, we will.
And we’ve talked about how Daniel and his friends kept alive the history that shaped them, reminding themselves of the story of the God who had rescued God’s people in the past, the dangerous story which declared that despite the overthrow of the nation and the sacking of the Temple, God remained the final word, the ultimate power. And we reflected that in the same way, we must keep alive, immerse ourselves in our stories, the stories of Jesus Christ.
And then last week we looked at how the prophet Jeremiah counselled the people not to remain aloof in exile, but to seek the welfare of the city to which they had been taken; to be a blessing to those aspects of the empire that would good and noble. As we too, in seeking to make more real the kingdom of God in our culture and context, will find many things, both within and beyond the Church, which we can throw our lives and energy into.
In every culture, every society, there is much that positively reflects the things of the kingdom of God. There are groups and organisations, laws and customs, ways of life which are creative and life-giving, which empower those who would otherwise be powerless, bring justice to those who would be denied it, hope to those who would lack it, community to those who would be alone. And we, as the people of God, unashamedly take hold of these things, naming them as foretastes of the Kingdom of God in which these faint and distant echoes will be replaced by the real symphony.
But every society, culture, subculture, also has a shadow side.