Living a Godly life under persecution

Ravi Zacharias speaks during the World Summit in Washington, D.C.

As men and women who love Christ, struggling to ascend unto the hill of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart, I want you to ask the question, Where are the models? Who must I emulate? The answer is found in the Prophet Daniel.

In the late 500s B.C., Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, men and women were taken into exile, and among them was Daniel. How did he respond?

First, he drew his line of resistance by training his appetite.

We must train our hungers and our longings if we are going to be in this world and not of the world. We get so softened up in the West. For us, the sacrifice is if the eggs don’t come to the table exactly the way we ordered them. You go to other parts of the world, and some people don’t know when they step out of their home whether they are ever going to come back to the same family.

Friends, we’ve got to draw lines so we don’t get softened up. There was nothing wrong with the food at the banqueting table of King Nebuchadnezzar, but Daniel refused to eat the food. He said, “If I’m bought by the king, I will get so comfortable here, I will forget the primary calling for which God has placed me here.”

Daniel harnessed an arena of persecution and turned it into a platform of opportunity by resisting the temptation to be comfortable.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are living at a time where we dare not set a tepid Christianity beside a scorching paganism. Draw the lines in the right places. Resist the temptation to live a comfortable life.

Second, Daniel drew the line of dependence. It went beyond his learning. It went beyond his books. His line of dependence went much deeper. It went to wisdom, not merely to knowledge, not merely to understanding. Books can only take you so far. The mind needs to be stirred, but the soul needs to be vibrant with the Scriptures.

We cannot be saved by the wisdom of this world and by the firepower of the flesh. We can only be saved by the salvation offered by our Savior, who shed His blood so that we would not need to shed ours, and who fills us with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to give us utterance when we need it most desperately. Wisdom. How desperately we need it.

Daniel went to his knees. He said, “God I don’t know what this dream is, and I don’t know what the meaning is. You’re going to have to tell it to me.” And he went back to Nebuchadnezzar and said, “What I’m going to tell you has nothing to do with who I am. It has everything to do with what God has revealed to me. These are the four kingdoms. They’re going to come one after another. They’re going to be shattered, and a stone cut by no man’s hands is going to replace all of this” (See Daniel 2). He was talking about you and me, coming along the way, built on the cornerstone which no other one can lay than Jesus Christ Himself.

And the last thing is Daniel’s line of confidence. He drew his line of confidence by making a change in the lives of the others, not in his own. Three kings in a row crossed over to his worldview. The impact was made by a man who did not cross the line, but who had others cross over to his side.

I want to leave you with two simple thoughts. First, the Christian faith is the only faith that has a bloodied Savior as the centerpiece of its hope. I spoke in Mumbai in December at a conference on terrorism. I was the only speaker representing the Christian worldview.

I said to them, “I want to tell you a story of a man who was bloodied not far from where you and I are standing at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai when the terrorists from Pakistan broke into the Taj and the Oberoi.

“There’s the blood of One that is offered to cover you and me. And when we are covered by His blood, hate is blunted and life thrives again.”

“One of the survivors was an actor who dove for cover, and a few days later he was being interviewed. He said: ‘The murderer was coming toward us with his machine gun. He’d gunned everybody down. I was on the pile of these bodies, and I knew the barrel of the gun was above me because his footsteps were so close, I didn’t move. And he walked away.’

“The interviewer said, ‘Why do you think he didn’t kill you?’ The man said, ‘The only thing I can think of is that I was so covered with the others’ blood that he took me for dead and walked away.’”

I then said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. You may come from a different faith, but I want to tell you this. There’s the blood of One that is offered to cover you and me. And when we are covered by His blood, hate is blunted and life thrives again.”

The second thought is this: I have a 5-year-old grandson named Jude. When he was 3 1/2, his mother, my daughter Naomi, had lost her car keys in the house and was searching all over for them. She slapped her forehead and said, “I must be losing my mind.” Jude stood in front of her and said, “Mommy, whatever you do, please don’t ever lose your heart, because I’m in there.”

I sometimes think about the cross, and I shut my eyes and try to see the cruel nails, the crown of thorns, and Jesus being crucified for me. But even if I could see Him die, I would but see a little part of that great love which like a fire is always burning in His heart. He has us on His heart and in His heart. He is always keeping watch over His own.

Draw the lines in the right places—of resistance, of dependence and of confidence. He will bring us through as more than conquerors. He has promised us that. May God bless you.