We’ve heard God speaking into Nebuchadnezzar’s life time and time again, but the penny still hasn’t dropped for him. After all that God has done to humble him, Nebuchadnezzar still stands over Babylon and says: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” So God gives him the ultimate humbling: to make him like a beast. After this, Nebuchadnezzar is finally humbled before God, and acknowledges his everlasting kingdom. We each struggle with pride in some way, and just like Nebuchadnezzar, we need God to humble us before we can cry out to the eternal king.
Three kids stand up against the king’s command, and refuse to bow down to a golden statue. Because of this, the king explodes in rage, and throws them all into a fiery furnace. In these flames, the true and living God meets them, and saves them from death.
In a time when God’s people were living in a foreign land, they needed a greater perspective. And God chose to give them this perspective through the dream of the Babylonian king. The dream showed that kingdom after kingdom would rise and fall, and only God’s kingdom would reign forever. This is the perspective that would give God’s people the courage to live boldly in a foreign land.
When Daniel and his friends were asked to dine at the king’s table, they took a stand and refused. It was a fairly small matter, but their faithfulness with this small matter prepared them to be faithful in the face of death later in life. For us, this can open up any number of challenges of faithfulness in our lives. As God’s people we aren’t called to assimilate, but we aren’t called to withdraw either. We’re called to live in a foreign land, depending on the wisdom of God. To know when to take a stand, and how to be a blessing to the world around us.
Sixty years ago, Australia had claims to being a “Christian country.” But today, any claim to Christendom has well and truly died. So how should God’s people live in a foreign land? The book of Daniel is an emergency toolkit to help us answer this question. In the first talk in our series, we hear how Daniel and his friends were dropped in the deep end of a foreign culture, and were pressed to turn away from their God.
Our culture’s narrative is that our inner identities are more true and real to us than anyone else can ever access. But in the Bible’s vision our identities are worked out first before our Creator, and secondly in relationship with others. So in an age where identity is becoming more and more insular and subjective, how can the Bible recentre us? Mark Baddeley (lecturer of theology and doctrine at Queensland Theological College) finishes his mini-series, exploring some of these wider ethical challenges that our culture faces today.
As love is vocally championed in our world, more and more people are living lonely lives. So what does the Biblical vision of love has to say to us? How does it speak to the Australian vision of love? Mark Baddeley (lecturer of theology and doctrine at Queensland Theological College) joins us for a two-week series, exploring some of the wider ethical challenges that our culture faces today.
We started out this series by looking at how we’re called to be actively transforming our minds, and not being passively conformed to this world. But now we finish this series by looking at how we’re to be actively renewing our world with good, and not being passively overcome with evil. The end of Romans 12 calls us to love our enemies, provide for those who do evil to us, and to overcome evil with good. This is just about the hardest thing God calls us to do in this life: to look evil in the face, sincerely forgive, and seek to do good. Trusting in God’s justice, using anger for good, and confronting evil are each things which can pose real challenges for us. But in view of God’s mercy, our hearts can be melted down and transformed, and his mercies can slowly become our mercies.
Romans can seem like a complex book of doctrine, but for Paul it was a missional letter. His life had been devoted to speaking the gospel, to the point where he had exhausted every opportunity around him. He was even willing to stand on the precipice of hell and be willing to throw himself in for the sake of those who weren’t in Christ (not that he ever could). What would it look like for us to know that we’ve exhausted every opportunity in our local community, and left no stone left unturned?
It can sometimes seem like church is a place for polite, clean-cut people who have their lives together, and broken people can feel on the outer at church. But God says that church is a place where broken people should feel at home. Even though we carry this great, glorious treasure of the gospel, “we have this treasure in jars of clay”–in polystyrene cups. God entrusts his gospel to broken people, and in our weakness and brokenness, the light of Christ shines all the more brightly.