Lent Day 37: No Cheap Imitations
And among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore, they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.
During the holidays and sometimes during the year I like to bake for the family. But when I do bake, I only want to use “real” ingredients. I am not in favor of generic brands for baking. The quality, texture and taste are not the same. For those who bake you can relate. For us cheap imitations won’t do when it comes to serving family and friends.
This is also the story of Daniel as he encounters the Babylonian governmental system. They want him and his friends to compromise their identity and values for cheap imitations. The system wants to socialize them in their value system through education, diet and complete assimilation away from their Jewish heritage and biblical values. But Daniel was not willing to “defile” himself with the king’s food and offered the chief of the eunuchs an alternative. It was an alternative of real ingredients for a healthy spiritual diet, the food of faith.
Rather than the rich food of the world, Daniel ate vegetables and water. And lo and behold when the review for inspection before King Nebuchadnezzar took place, their appearance was better and they were healthier in the flesh than anyone else.
The alternative that Daniel chose was better than anything the world had to offer. Even the pagan leader had to take notice of the distinct difference of these young men’s countenance from the rest of the group.
Brueggemann sites, “Daniel and his friends, under discipline, were the best recruits for high imperial service. They were able to accomplish that precisely because they did not compromise their faith. All the rest that follows of Daniel’s service and influence in the empire is history—and no Jew who reads the story is at all surprised. Everyone in faith knows that the water and vegetables of faith produce well-being in the world of raw power.”
The world may cook up their own way to operate in the world, but there is no substitute for the real ingredients of faith in Jesus Christ. Today let us not settle for imitation faith because it is cheaper. But let us choose the discipline of true life— that as we appear before the world our appearance is healthier and more appetizing, for service to the king and to our King.
“Empower us Lord, to resist the poor substitutes for true life on offer in our culture. May we not compromise with that which would weaken our faith. As we persevere on the journey, feed us with the bread of heaven that we may grow strong in you. Amen.” Brueggemann
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.