Knowing God and Taking Action
John Calvin once explained to a friend why he engaged in controversies. “Even a dog barks,” he wrote, “when his master is attacked: how could I be silent when the honor of my Lord is assailed?” Indeed, how can a servant of Christ remain faithful to his Master when the gospel of Christ is under siege? Paul would not sit still when the gospel was being threatened by the conduct of his friends and colleagues, going so far as to oppose the respected Apostle Peter to his face. Paul had to take action. Why? Because Peter’s man-fearing duplicity (which was leading others astray with him, including “even Barnabas”) “was not in step with the truth of the gospel.”
Paul risked friendship, apostolic unity, reputation, and respect from his peers in order to stand for Jesus Christ. At times, loyalty to the Savior requires nothing less. When pressures mount to deny Christ by silence, those who know Him must speak. When respected leaders begin to speak and act in ways that are not in step with the gospel, those who are loyal to Christ must be willing to oppose them.
The late J. I. Packer understood and explained this well in his classic book, Knowing God. Consider his insights below and pray that the Lord will make more of His people willing to take action in the face opposition to Jesus Christ and the truth that has been revealed in Him.
The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. Daniel 11:32
The action taken by those who know God is their reaction to the anti-God trends which they see operating around them. While their God is being defied and disregarded, they cannot rest. They feel they must do something; the dishonor due to God’s name goads them into action.
This is exactly what we see happening in the narrative chapters of Daniel, where we are told of the exploits of Daniel and his three friends. They were men who knew God, and who in consequence felt compelled from time to time actively to stand out against the conventions and dictates of irreligion and false religions. Daniel in particular appears as one who would not let a situation of that sort slide, but felt bound to challenge it openly. Rather than risk possible ritual defilement through eating palace food, he insisted on a vegetarian diet, to the consternation of the prince of the eunuchs. (Dan. 1:8-16) When Darius suspended the practice of prayer for a month (on pain of death). Daniel not merely went on praying three times a day, but did so in front of an open window, so everyone might see what he was doing. (Dan. 6:10).
It is not that Daniel was an awkward, cross-grained fellow who luxuriated in rebellion and could only be happy when he was squarely against the government. It is simply that those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God’s truth and honor are being directly or tacitly jeopardized and , rather than let the matter go by default, will force the issue on people’s attention and thereby seek to compel a change of heart about it—even at personal risk.