Over the past couple months, our church has been journeying through a sermon series in Daniel.
Four young men from Judah named Daniel, Hannaniah, Meshael, and Azariah were placed in an incredibly difficult circumstance. They had been hauled away from Judah into captivity in Babylon.
These four men were essentially placed in a school for the pagan Babylonian “wise men,” whose practices varied from magicians to astrologers. These wise men were at the beck and call of the king and other officials, to provide their wisdom as needed.
These four Jews then forcibly had their names changed to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, names that honored the gods of the Babylonians. So, these four men were taken from their homes and families, taught the language and religion of their captors, and had their names changed to names that honored the gods of their captors.
Yet, one thing that is profound to me is the respect that these four men continued to show their authority, King Nebuchadnezzar, and the kings who followed him. Daniel even displayed, on several occasions, a great compassion for Nebuchadnezzar.
Now, these four men didn’t always obey their authorities, especially when obedience to their earthly authorities necessitated disobedience to the Lord their God (i.e., the fiery furnace instance), but they continued to be respectful of their authorities, even in their disobedience.
As we find ourselves in an election season, we find ourselves with a great opportunity. We can either give in to the norm of our culture and find ways to hate each other for our differing opinions politically, or we can choose to love each other and to show respect in spite of our differences.
Isn’t it easy to love those who have worldviews in common with you? Those who really want to flesh out a love for their neighbor are those who seek to show love to those who have nothing in common with them.
And by the way, those who follow Christ don’t have a choice in the matter, if they want to be obedient to Christ. It was He who said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45a).
What if we tried, for just one election season, to show love and respect to someone across the political aisle from us? What might God do through us if we loved beyond our differences?
Brett Myers is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island. FBCHHI.org