About six years ago, a death row prisoner was given a new trial and then actually released to a homeless ministry about 20 miles from where I lived back then. When the announcement was made that he would be coming to our area, people in that community organized protests and verbally began to attack the ministry for bringing ‘that kind’ of person to their town. Threats were mailed, slanderous names were called, and picket lines were formed in protest.
The pastor that runs the shelter chose not to respond in like kind.
Later, the local news actually got to the place where they talked directly to the pastor and he politely answered their questions and reviewed their underlying purpose of feeding the hungry, helping the needy, and housing the homeless in an effort to share Christ with them.
He pointed them back to God!
Today’s passage from Daniel 3:16-18, in the New Living Translation, reminds me of that situation that ministry and pastor faced.
Now, I believe that while it is easy to see how the Scriptures apply to others, I’m even more convinced that God wants to speak to me, personally, about how to apply His word to my own life, as well.
As I read those words “we do not need to defend ourselves before you,” I recognized that far too often I respond to whatever comes my way defensively. It’s almost like I want to convince others about how wrong their comment or criticism or accusation is wrong. Or perhaps I’m trying to convince them, and me, that I’m not wrong.
These three Hebrews were in Babylon, but not of Babylon. They had positions of authority in the world, but knew EXACTLY where the line was between being IN Babylon and becoming a part OF Babylon. And they would not cross that line.
Instead of responding with defensiveness, they responded with an explanation of God’s will and calling on their lives that superceded all others and then willingly dealt with whatever consequences might follow.
Oh God, when I feel attacked or threatened, help me to follow the examples of the homeless shelter and these three men of faith. AMEN.