A couple of years ago, the Christ in Youth MOVE high school conference week was based on Daniel and his friends, remnants of the people of Israel that were deported to live and work in Babylon. Daniel is a solid example of a faithful witness to the LORD God in the midst of a secular society that doesn’t give a rip about the LORD God or his ways. Daniel faithfully followed the ways of his faith, and in the process found himself in a den full of lions. But, God’s presence was with Daniel and he was not harmed by the lions, and his life was delivered. The result of this incident and the faithful witness of Daniel was an conversion of sorts by the Babylonian ruler, who recognized the one true LORD God.
During the conference, there was a statement made that has stuck with me. It was something to the effect of, “Living faithfully for God is the best apologetic for a postmodern world.” Now, I know, apologetic is not a word in most of this audience’s daily vocabulary. The idea of an apologetic is evidence that points toward the validity of a particular belief or theory. When used as I stated earlier, the idea is that being a faithful witness for God is the best evidence a person can give to the reality that God exists and is at work in the world.
When God gets ahold of our lives and shapes and forms them to his ways and provides our needs along the way, our lives are a public witnesses of God’s presence in the world. This is what Daniel was in the Babylonian culture. And, this is what Ezekiel was in the exile community of Israelites living in Babylon during the years of exile.
“Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. … “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezekiel 3)
Ezekiel was called by God to call his fellow Israelites back to faithfulness to God’s ways. Part of Ezekiel’s faithfulness to what God called him to do was to call out the sinful behavior of his brothers and sisters in the faith — to call them back from the path of destruction and death. Along with his words, Ezekiel’s life served as a witness to the mercy and grace of God, as God provided for Ezekiel during the exile.
Most of us, like Ezekiel are called to be faithful to God in our own local culture and land, not some far-off culture and place. We too like Ezekiel, live in a time of secularism and a society that doesn’t give a rip about God. But, we too like Ezekiel and Daniel, can provide a powerful witness to the people around us, just by living faithfully to God — day after day, month after month, year after year. Sometimes, yes, we are called to boldly speak-out. But, primarily our lives — lived in close proximity to God’s way — is the most profound witness to God and his life-saving ways that our local culture and land can experience.
Lives lived in the presence and hope and security and provision of God are noticeable to others. They are qualities that are amiss by other ways of life. As we live faithful to God, our lives look peculiar and substantive to the world around us that is hungering for substance and life. My hope and prayer is that we allow God to continue to shape and mold us to be such persons and a community of people — ever witnessing to the beauty and wonder of life God’s way and in his family.