Imagine this scenario: You work in middle-management for a company. Highly-skilled, you have been quickly working your way up the ladder towards a senior executive position. Your company has always prided themselves on meeting the customer’s needs, even when it meant higher costs and lower profits.The last few years have been a little rough, and you find out a hostile takeover of your company has just been completed. Your new bosses have a history of firing or relocating virtually all of the entrenched employees in the companies they acquire.
Just before you start googling realtors and temp agencies the phone rings. The CEO of your new parent company has an offer for you: an executive-level position with his company. After reviewing your file he decided you show great promise. With a little mentoring, you could become a tremendous asset. (Which is the same thing the Emperor said about Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.) The only problems are the “sentimental notions” your old company valued that you no doubt still cling to. He tells you that while the customer came first in your old job he has two rules: 1) make as much money as possible -and- 2) stay out of jail. Everything else is negotiable. What do you do in this situation? A) Take the new job and change your core values -or- B) “Dance with the one who brung you” and trust that good guys do not finish last.
This is a hypothetical, but it has happened before . . . and with much higher stakes. If you read the book of Daniel you learn that Israel was overrun by Babylon. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had a policy of killing or deporting the majority of the people he conquered. As brutal as he was, Nebbie was also a smartie. He recruited the best and brightest of the nations he conquered and offered them high-level positions in his government. The only catch was you had to be assimilated into the Babylonian culture. This meant getting a new name, new language, and new gods and customs. In short, you lost your own cultural identity and took on that of your new “boss.”
Half of the book of Daniel is predictive prophecy about events occurring in the future. One-fourth of it consists of stories about how God demonstrated to the kings of Babylon that He was in control. The remaining fourth contains three different stories of God rewarding four Israelites who refused to compromise their devotion to Him. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are all offered “The Devil’s Deal”: become one of us and all your dreams will come true. It started subtly enough, “Just eat our food and drink our wine. We know your people have these dietary restrictions from your God, but those aren’t a big deal.” Before the book ends, all four men have faced down death because they refused to renounce God’s rightful place in their lives.
(Sometimes it is hard to stand)
Every day we have opportunities to be faithful to our calling or “bend the rules” for personal gain. I am not trying to advocate a strict legalism here, but I have read in the Bible that if we love Christ we will obey His commands. (In fact, I am pretty sure I read it in more than one place . . .) What I am saying is that the Biblical record shows God is faithful to those who remain faithful to Him. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Remember, you never gain any ground when you fall away from God.