October 18: Daniel 3

Chris Donato
"There are some Jews whom you put in charge of the province of Babylon--Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego--who are disobeying Your Majesty's orders. They do not worship your god or bow down to the statue you set up." (Dan. 3:12)

If there's a simple gospel call to the nations that hasn't changed in two millennia, it's this: put away your idols and worship the true God revealed in Israel's Messiah, Jesus. This refrain came constantly from the lips of the Apostle to the Gentiles, who enjoined people everywhere to hear the announcement of the good news, which will "turn you away from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them" (Acts 14:15).

Not much has changed since then. Syncretism is the great American Temptation (along with french fries, of course) among Christians as much as in the surrounding culture. But "how can God's temple come to terms with pagan idols?" asks Saint Paul. "For we are the temple of the living God!" (2 Cor. 6:16a).

It's important to note at this point that we confessionalists aren't, historically at least, fundamentalists (I use the word in its post-Scopes Trial sense): the dangers of syncretism don't undo the radical freedom that is ours in Christ. Christians have always been, rightly, a synchronistic bunch (that whole "being in the world" bit) while nonetheless being warned to guard against the syncretistic temptations that come along with that synchronistic life ("but not of the world"). We are in essence called to live deliberate lives in this time between the times, but we are not to do it, even if it were possible, with a separatist posture. While we need to be cautious to avoid unchristian syncretistic practices, we also need to uphold the freedom to practice wise dominion in this earth as we await our Lord's return. This goes for eating meat offered to idols (which is nothing, if you know the one and only God created the food and you are not eating it as a symbolic gesture of worship of the idols, so the apostle in 1 Cor. 8) or practicing yoga. We can boldly, yet humbly and with gratitude toward the triune God, eat that halal gyro and then attempt to work it off with a tuladandasana or utkatasana pose.

At any rate, mixing Christianity with idolatry happens even among us confessional types. Where are those points of syncretism in our own lives? What beliefs and practices do we take for granted this very day that give accord between Christ and Belial (1 Cor. 6:15)? Pray with me and ask that the true God would root out the idolatry within our own hearts, from which will spring beliefs and practices that delight our Father in heaven.