A Public Faith

Scripture Link: Daniel 6

We live in a day in age where people go to great lengths to make distinctions between public expressions of faith and private expressions of faith. Almost all Americans, even Americans who are not particularly religious, are quite supportive of the idea of other people making private expressions of faith. The great controversies over religious faith and truth do not arise from what people do in private, but rather from what they do in public.

The categories of public life versus private life are actually a very recent way to compartmentalize life. Historian Gordon Wood states in his book “The Radicalism of the American Revolution” that colonial America had very little concept of public versus private life. Business could not just be business. Politics could not just be politics. Friends wouldn’t typically support different political parties. If a man’s honor were insulted in a public debate, he usually would not leave the debate floor and pretend that it never happened. A public feud would become a personal feud and would often end up resolved by a duel.

The lack of boundaries and clarity between public and private is what lands Daniel into hot water in a way that we today find difficult to understand. But Daniel does give us clarity as to what it means to live by conviction and to give our utmost allegiance to God regardless of personal cost.

One of the major points of our sermon on Daniel 6 concerns the public perception of Daniel.

Daniel was known throughout the land for his exceptional qualities. One of those qualities is obviously his integrity. Everybody knew where Daniel’s faith lay. They also knew that an edict from an earthly king would not be enough change Daniel’s faith. Because of circumstances outside of Daniel’s control, Daniel’s great personal strengths became the very things that land him in the den of lions.

The hero of the story, of course, is not Daniel. It is God who proves himself worthy of faith. It is God who shuts the mouths of the lions. It is God who could have chosen any other way he wished to save Daniel and vindicate his faith. Daniel shows us God is both just and loving toward his people. He puts himself on display so that He is praised even by pagan rulers, like Darius.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think that Daniel was trying to be cast into the lions’ den?
  • How do you know that Daniel was not using privacy as a cover to protect himself?
  • Could Daniel have both saved himself and remained faithful to God?
  • Is it truly possible to be private about faith in God?
  • Why are Americans so conflicted about the private vs. public aspects of faith?
  • Where can a Christian receive the sort of confident boldness that Daniel exhibited?
  • Would Darius have believed in the power of God if Daniel had not remained confident in his own faith?
  • Why do you think it is more glorious that God saved Daniel instead of Daniel saving himself?

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