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index     Suppose one day at work your supervisor notices a Bible sitting on your desk. She tells you to put it away and not have it setting out in public. What do you do?

  1. You take a stand, demand your rights, tell her it is your desk and you will put whatever you want on it.
  2. You just take it home.
  3. Stand on your desk and read it out loud, in the King James Version.

I know this isn’t an issue for a lot of you because your Bible is on your phone and it is admittedly a lame example. But the real question is, “Do we always take a confrontational stand? How do we live out our faith in a situation when our culture doesn’t respect our faith?

On the one extreme are those Christians who insist that you always take a stand on every issue no matter what. They believe you must be confrontational, in-your-face; I’m not budging on my belief. On the other end are those Christians who never take a stand on anything. And there are hundreds of choices in between the two.

Sometimes we are told that as a Christian we must take a stand on every issue. “If you don’t take a stand you are just compromising.” Sometimes we take stands we are not comfortable with or sometimes we end up feeling guilty for not taking a stand. I would suggest we look to a man in the Hebrew Bible named Daniel for some guidance. He was forced to do things he didn’t really believe in by a culture that was hostile to his faith and his people. But, most of the time he worked with even his adversaries within the circumstances he was given. He didn’t refuse to study the Babylonian subjects. He didn’t even refuse his Babylonian name. When they wanted him to eat food that wasn’t kosher he didn’t just refuse. He made a deal. He worked with them.

What some people call making bold stands for God often do more harm than good. Every time Christians boycott a movie it just ends up giving the movie free press and more people end up going to see it. But, there are many who don’t boycott things, but have a personal set of standards that they adhere to. If a movie doesn’t meet them, they don’t go. They don’t make a big deal of it. They don’t carry signs. They just live out their faith.

Daniel didn’t form a boycott or refuse. He made a deal. He worked within the system and God granted him favor. In the end God was honored because of Daniel’s choice.

I had a professor at Samford University, Dr. Edwards, who gave me some great advice. He said, “When you get to be the Pastor of a church there will be a lot of issues that come up that you either disagree with or want to do another way. Take a stand on the important matters, just work with the rest.” Then he said this, “Never get crucified on a toothpick.”

In other words, don’t spend all of your influence on things that are unimportant in the long run. You don’t have to draw a line in the sand on every issue.

Christians and churches that are always taking a stand on every issue and boycotting things all of the time end up being known by others for what they are against, not what they are for.

There will be times in life when you will have to take a stand. There will be times when you will have to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is where I stand.” There will be times when doing what God wants you to do may bring you into confrontation with our culture. Both Daniel and his friends faced those moments too. Sometimes they were confrontational. Sometimes they were not. They had the wisdom to know the difference.

It is easy to just boycott whatever some religious leader says were are supposed to boycott. It is easy to pretend we are making a difference when in reality we are not. To follow Daniel’s example means we have to first think through issues for ourselves.

Some folks try to tell us the Bible is like a GPS for our lives. A GPS tells you how to get to your destination, and tells you every turn you take along the way. I have found the Bible to be more like a compass. It always points true north. True north is Jesus. It leads us to our destination, but it does not tell us every turn we make along the way. To follow Jesus we have to think and make choices. We pray and ask God for His guidance. We listen. We listen to the wisdom of others and most importantly to God’s Holy Spirit who leads us.

Sometimes you have to take a stand. Draw a line in the sand. Most of the time you do not. You have to be smart enough to make a deal. You have to figure out a way to work through the system for redemptive change. That is my prayer for all of us as we face tough choices in our lives. I pray we have the courage to take a stand when we need to, the patience and the persistence to work with others for redemptive change when we need to, and the wisdom to know the difference.