We work not to prove ourselves to God or attempt to earn our salvation. Our motivation to obey God is out of love for him and in gratitude for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ. Faithfulness is the key to living the Christian life, and nowhere is that more important than in the work we do.
The Bible gives us many rich resources to help us understand how to reweave shalom. One is found in the book of Daniel as four young Hebrew exiles, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah follow Jeremiah’s call to “work for the peace and prosperity (shalom) of the city” (Jer. 29:7, NLT)
Daniel 1 introduces us to a type of Christian activism demonstrated through cultural resistance. Daniel provides a model of how to reweave shalom as an exile. This idea is repeated throughout the book of Daniel, which is written for the people of God living in a world opposed to them. Daniel refused to succumb and take a first step toward the abandonment of his faith. At the same time, he works in the culture with a high level of competence.
Daniel was determined not to assimilate into the Babylonian culture when it was possible for him to actively resist. J. Ligon Duncan notes that Daniel’s resistance illustrates three principles that apply to all of God’s people who are struggling to be faithful in the midst of a godless culture:
- Daniel “purposes in his heart” (Dan. 1:8) to be holy and not be absorbed into the idolatry of the Babylonian culture.
- Daniel does not carry out his resistance in an arrogant way but exercises his opposition with genuine humility and grace.
- Daniel exhibits faith, trusting in the power and promises of God and expecting God to respond to his faithful obedience.
Daniel’s story can significantly help us in our struggles as believers in our current post-Christian culture. It provides the model for faithfulness to God’s call on our lives—no matter what the environment. How do we imagine reweaving shalom through the work of our hands in a culture that is becoming more and more hostile to Christianity? Like Daniel and his friends, how do we reweave shalom and persevere with excellence and faithful obedience?
Perseverance with Excellence
Daniel’s example first calls us to perseverance. His message is: Don’t give up, continue to resist the temptations of the culture while being obedient to what you know God has called you to do, to the best of your ability. There are two critical issues for us to consider as we strive to persevere: Everything is important to God, and we are called to excellence. Let us look at these two issues in more detail.