Wednesday, November 03, 2004
What is a Classic?
This question arises ever so often, and everyone has an answer. While most people would agree on the definition, few would actually agree on what should be considered a classic. Simply put, a classic is something that has passed the test of time. In other words, although it is old, it is still relevant, still in style. Furthermore, when we say that it is old, we mean that while the object although created in the past, is still as good or better than anything created today. For example, the Salsa music I grew up listening to is now called classic Salsa. (I think it is another way of calling those in my generation old). Believe it or not, there are arguments about what should be considered a classic. I wonder just who it is that decides what is in style and what is not -- and what criteria do they use? Alas, I'll probably never know.
What I do know is that the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den is a classic. Its truths, based on eternal principles, have never gone out of style. These principles are still as relevant today as they were several thousand years ago, and continue to encourage us on our journey to the kingdom . What is it about Daniel that stands out in each story? According to Daniel 6:3,4-- " ... an excellent Spirit was in him." The scripture indirectly describes Daniel as temperament, full of faith, without fault or error, humble, dependent on God, truthful, honorable, trustworthy, uncorrupted, filled with spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom "of the gods." He was filled with the fruit of the Spirit--Gal. 5:22,23.
Does this mean that he was sinless? No, like you and me, he was a sinful human being, with temptations from within and without to sin. According to Romans 3:10, 12-- "there is none righteous, no not one," and "They are all gone out of the way (like sheep) ...there is none that doeth good, no not one." So, Daniel had the sinful human nature bequeathed from Adam after the fall. Yet in character, he was righteous--as Daniel 5:14; 6:3 says, he was "filled with an excellent Spirit," and therein lay his righteousness. In Daniel, there was no separation between who he was in his professional (social) and spiritual life. This kind of cohesion in the follower of Christ never goes out of style in the eyes of God.
For the Christian, faith is always in vogue, because without it no man can please God or see Him and live. Daniel understood that talking with God was never out of style. He knew that without it he would fail. He understood that he was not justified because he obeyed the Law of God, and was God's workman, but because he trusted and believed God. As with Abraham, his faith was accounted as righteousness. Was it Daniel's righteousness? No, it was God's righteousness given him because he believed, trusted, had confidence in and listened attentively with the willingness to do (this is the true definition of obedience). This is classic righteousness which never goes out of style.
Just what is it in the Christian life that eventually will go out of style? Serving God out of fear--fear of reprisal, fear of His wrath, fear of being wrong, fear of failure. These kinds of things will cease, eventually--particularly for those who learn to love the Lord with all their hearts, minds and yes, bodies. What else will go out of vogue--at some point? Thinking of God as a despot. God too has destroyed rebellious individuals with their families (Korath, Dathan and Abiram--Num. 16:1-33), because they too shared in stubborn attitudes and actions of unwillingness. In the case of Achan who coveted the "goodly Babylonian garment," all Israel shared in the responsibility for his sin, and had to punish him by stoning, as prescribed by the Lord. When we are truly convinced, and convicted of the Lord's great self-denying love, we will be converted to Him, and covetousness, rebelliousness, acquisitiveness will no longer be found in us. These garments of self-righteousness will seem like the rags they are, for His loving kindness will be seen in its true splendor. There's nothing like a classic garment, which, never going out of style, fits as if it is tailored just for you.
The story of Daniel is a classic, because the principles of God's character which he demonstrated, never go out of style. Through the Holy Spirit, Daniel possessed ageless eternal qualities. This is why Daniel was relevant in his day as well as ours. Well, should we vow to be like Daniel? I think not, for our promises are like proverbial ropes of sand. Instead, let's yield our wills to God--continually / daily, as we talk with and listen to Him. Let's resist the temptations of covetousness, jealousy, envy, malice and
pride. In so doing, we are more than conquerors -- victorious over sin, satan and ultimately over death. I'm asking Christ for this classic kind of character exemplified by Daniel. How about you, are you asking too?
Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz
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