John Lennox, a mathematician at Oxford, is a winsome apologist for the Christian faith. I’m reading his latest book, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism. In one chapter, he writes about the inherent risks of standing up for one’s faith, being a witness the way Daniel was, and shares an anecdote of his doing so at the highest levels of his profession. Being a witness for Christ, he says, can hinder one’s career.
But not always, and not, at least in Chapter 1, for Daniel and his three friends. Because of the boldness, sensitivity, and tact with which they witnessed to their faith in God, they prospered more than any of their fellow students at the university.
It would be a mistake, however (possibly a painful one), to think that this story somehow guarantees that if we honour God in our witness he will make us into intellectual and administrative geniuses like Daniel and his friends. It is perfectly true that God gave them their ability. That is what God did for four particular people at that time. It is no guarantee that he will do the same for us in our time. He had a very special role for them to fulfil, and he also has one for us. Just as God equipped them for their role, so he will equip us for ours; but those roles may be very different. In Christian terms: as it pleased him, God has set us in the great body of Christ, that organic unity that is the church. Each of us has a different function. All those functions are equally necessary and valuable, although not all are so obvious (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-26). We must learn to be content with the significance that God gives us…; and contentment comes when we understand that it has pleased God to make us just as we are.
Contentment comes when we understand that it has pleased God to make us just as we are.
While I am 100 percent convinced that this is true, it is the struggle of my life to live as if I believe it. Am I the only one?
In the meantime, I’ll sing the following song until its words sink in. Merle seems very content, indeed.