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Clay Texture
  • Pastor Daniel Seow

a faith that stands

Updated: Feb 17

Before I was born, my parents had asked a missionary they knew from church to suggest names for their children. “Daniel” was the name my parents chose for me.

According to the Old Testament, “Daniel” was a prophet when Judah was captured by Babylon. The missionary had suggested three names in total, which my parents used in turn for my two siblings and me - “Samuel”, “Daniel”, and “Stephen”. As my parents’ third child was a daughter, “Stephen” was changed to “Stephanie”.

Daniel is a character that I greatly admire. He was separated from his family since young and brought to Babylon in captivity with many other promising young men, educated in a foreign land, and cultivated as an elite to serve the Babylonian Empire.

Although Daniel was young then, he held a very strong conviction of his identity. He knew that he worshipped God and was one of His people. In order to maintain this identity, Daniel and his three friends drew clear boundaries in their lives according to the Bible. These boundaries included, for example, what could and could not be eaten, and an insistence on no worship of idols. They did not compromise their beliefs to please the authorities or to gain a better life. Nothing could turn them aside from living godly and holy lives, not even the threat of death in the fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

“But if not” reflects an important fact: Daniel’s friends knew that God had the power to save, but that He also had the power to decide what He would do. They were willing to submit to God’s will, even though they did not actually know if they would lose their lives for refusing to bow down to the king's golden image. They simply knew that God had forbidden them to do so, so they obeyed and made their choice calmly. The choice between death and worship was not difficult for them.

What do I particularly admire about Daniel and his friends? These young men were taken from their homes to a place without adult supervision — without the instruction of religious teachers and the reminders of their parents. Their insistence on living according to their beliefs and principles was thus admirable. 

For myself, or the young people of today, if we leave the “jurisdiction” of our Sunday School teachers, pastors, and parents, will we still hold on to our faith and live a life that pleases God? I have seen many young people choose not to go to church when they became old enough to make their own decisions. What followed were many decisions that clearly contradicted the principles of their faith. They could well have become the “ache” of their parents' hearts now.

I could not understand why they would so easily abandon their faith and leave God's ways. However, this phenomenon is undeniably common. My brother, Samuel, and my sister, Stephanie, have not returned to the church for decades. I often pray for them and their families, hoping that both families will return to the house of God one day. 

As a father of two children, I can only remind myself to equip my children in their faith, so that they can establish a strong relationship with God and understand God’s will for them from an early age. I also have to work hard to live out my testimony in front of them and live a true life of faith. I am not perfect, but I have grown in my life and am serious about giving an account of my life to God. I know in my heart that there is only so much I can do. 

One day, my children will no longer be under my “jurisdiction”, but have to answer to God for themselves. I hope that they will truly be like “Daniel and his friends”, and take a firm stand for God.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs … (Daniel 1:8-9)

“Resolved”: Daniel and his friends “resolved” from the beginning that they would made a “decision” that pleased God. I believe that each of us should make an important decision in front of God this morning, that is, not to defile ourselves with the things of the world, nor to let our life be affected due to wrong choices. As long as we have such a will, I believe that God will help us fulfill it, and come into our lives to help us become disciples that experience growth every day. 

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