Daniel is a hero of mine. No, not the new controversial TV show. The original guy, one of a few in history whose name adorns a book of the Bible. Not bad credentials.
Daniel was a teenager when he and countless other Jews were taken captive and marched across the desert to Babylon. Imagine a devout God-follower finding himself in a pagan city. How pagan? Worship there consisted of going into temples and sleeping with prostitutes. Imagine what the shady side of town must have been like!
But the Jews found themselves slaves in this sewer of a city. Daniel found himself in the dungeon of the palace, and yet managed to honor his God through a variety of circumstances (read the first 6 chapters of Daniel and see several examples).
Though his steadfast faith is impressive and encouraging to us all, its not the thing that impresses me most about Daniel. He was involved in the politics of day. He was an advisor to the king. In fact, on more than one occasion (dream interpretation, lions den briefing), the pagan kings he served acknowledged and even worshipped "the God of Daniel."
Funny, he didn't have any stronghanded lobbyists in his back pocket. There was no several-billion-dollars-a-year budget for any sort of "coalition" designed to get him or his buddies elected or selected to office. What was his approach? He was consistent in his love for God and his obedience to him*. And when opportunities to witness presented themselves, God worked powerfully.
Can we learn from Daniel? Certainly. He was involved in the culture (in this case, politics), and he helped shape it. We need people in the business of culture shaping. NOT culture brow-beating and guilt-tripping. But folks being salt & light at all levels of our communities.
Chuck Colson has a terrific piece in today's Christianity Today regarding Christians and their involvement in all things political. He calls it "A More Excellent Way: Changing The Law Isn't Enough." If you have a moment, which is all it will take, click over and read it.
*I realize that there are many out there who get the most notice in the media (and cast a cloud over the rest of us who are trying to live life the most excellent way) who justify their "bold" behavior as simply being obedient to Christ. That's an unfortunate reality. Perhaps if they got to know the heart of Christ more closely they might not just change their tactics, but also discover how thrilling it is to actually be effective and introduce people to Jesus!