Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Iocaine Powder and a Diet of Vegetables

Suggested Reading: Daniel 1:1-15

The Princess Bride was one of my favorite movies growing up. In fact, I tried to novelize the movie and was a couple chapters into writing it out when I realized the movie really did come from a book. One of the most memorable scenes from that movie is the battle of wits between Vinzini and the Man in Black, two men battling to the death, using only their intellects. Vinzini was supposed to guess which of the two wine goblets the Man in Black had poisoned with iocaine powder. The winner would get to keep the kidnapped princess while the loser died of poisoning. Rather than simply talking about who was smartest, they decided to put it to the test. Unfortunately, the idea of poisoning both drinks with a poison to which the Man in Black was immune never occurred to Vinzini.

In the book of Daniel, four young men also found themselves in a position where their beliefs were pitted against another's. Having been captured and re-educated by king Nebuchadnezzar after the conquest of Jerusalem, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were being told they needed to eat the king's meat which had probably been involved with sacrifices to idols. When Daniel requested a different diet, their caretaker warned them that he would lose his job if they showed up looking less healthy and robust than the other captives. Rather than accepting the argument that the king's meat would bring better health than the vegetables they had requested, Daniel responded, “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water. At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” (Daniel 1:12-13, NLT) Daniel didn't accept the caretaker's rational but asked for a chance to prove his own, to put it to the test.

Like Daniel, we live in a world which believes very differently than our own faith has taught us to believe. We live in a world where we are told that abstaining from sex before marriage is unhealthy, where disciplining your child is considered archaic, and where getting ahead is the highest virtue. These things and many more are often in direct conflict with our faith, but we often forfeit the argument when that conflict occurs. Instead of wimping out, let's take the attitude Daniel had and challenge the accepted norms. Let us say, "Test me! Let me try it my way while you try it yours and let's see what happens." Allow those tests not only to serve as confirmation for you but as a witness to a world that desperately needs a light to shine in the darkness.

When conflict arises between the tenets of your faith and the world's belief system, don't just accept their arguments about what is best. Put them to the test and give God a chance to prove his word.

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