Boundaries exist everywhere. Our kids love to ride their bikes up and down the street, the neighbor’s mailbox two doors down, the boundary line. A few yards farther, and they might pedal into traffic. Our children understand the importance of boundaries.
Dog owners impose boundary lines when staking up an “invisible” fence. The electric current zinging around the yard zaps a canine if he comes into contact with the boundary line. An intelligent dog soon learns his limits and happily strolls around his own yard, not wishing to be struck with a powerful surge of electricity. Boundaries exist on sports fields, highways, and in the inner workings of corporations both large and small. Boundaries serve as lines that mark the limits of an area; a dividing line; a line that won’t be crossed without consequence. Unfortunately, when it comes to matters of temptation, we often fail to mentally mark the boundaries we refuse to cross.
I’m currently taking the teenagers at church through the Book of Daniel. He and his buddies, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego understood boundaries, spiritual points where they would not compromise. After being taken into captivity, these young boys faced the prospect of growing up in a foreign land, thrust into a culture of extravagance and polytheism. The King of Babylon ordered his advisor to handpick remarkable young men from Judah to enter into the King’s three-year indoctrination program. After being well versed in the culture, history, and literature of Babylon, the young men would enter into the King’s service, ruling in various capacities throughout Babylon. In Daniel chapter one, readers discover Daniel and his friends “resolving not to defile themselves with the royal food and wine.” God blessed their obedience.
A few years later, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego chose a fiery furnace over bowing to a godless image. In so doing, they danced around in the flames. I envision a mamba line, the Son of God Himself heading up the parade. Later still, the self-absorbed King passed a law prohibiting prayer off limits to any god but to himself. How did Daniel respond? He continued his habit of prayer three times per day, expecting to face half-starved lions. When the hot breath of large hungry cats blew across his neck, Daniel did not flinch, begging for his life. God blessed Daniel’s faithfulness. The King of kings, clamped shut the mouths of the king of the jungle.
Boundaries. With resolute and committed hearts, these young men drew a line, and refused to cross it. Being hundreds of miles from their homeland, these young men could’ve reasoned setting a godly example no longer mattered. Out from under the watchful eyes of family and friends, they could’ve decided to “sow their wild oats.” I suppose other male youngsters from Judah chose that path. Certainly, other young Jewish boys entered into the “Babylonian Government Training and Brainwashing Center,” but God’s Word only speaks of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those who compromised disappeared into obscurity. Conforming to the mannerisms and cultural norms of society sets no one apart. In the Book of Daniel, only those committed to godliness, wound up making headlines in the Word of God. Daniel 12:3 shares,
“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
Our culture tends to idolize the stars of the big screen, but God bestows that title upon those who point others to Him, something Daniel and friends accomplished by rejecting temptation and refusing to cross over boundaries, compromise not in their vocabulary.
This election cycle, as you step inside the voting booth, walk in armed with boundaries. Which candidates hold most firmly to Biblical principles and morality? Which candidates’ ideals and philosophies best line up with the Word of God? Values Voter guides are readily available online. Pray about your vote and stake up a boundary…draw a line in the sand.
“Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12)