Thousands of years ago four orphaned, Jewish teenagers were forced to march to a hostile country and immersed in headfirst into paganism. They were taught the dark arts and learned the inner secrets of the magicians and soothsayers of their powerful captors.
Did they protest? No! Instead they studied hard and advanced to the top of their class. In the midst of the idolatry around them, they never lost their passion for God, theological convictions or moral core. Instead their passion for God grew stronger, their theology grew deeper and their convictions became clearer.
Soon they were in leadership positions in this polytheistic culture filled with violence, sex, witchcraft and idolatry. When three of them were commanded to bow before an idol they refused. But they survived the fiery wrath an an angry tyrant by the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
These four teenagers were stellar examples of having burning hearts for God, bright minds for learning, calloused hands for working and strong spines filled with the molten steel of uncompromising resolve.
By now you probably know who I’m talking about: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and, the leader of the wolf pack, Daniel. What may surprise you is that they were most likely between 13-15 years old when they were taken into captivity which means that, after three years of training, they were in leadership positions by their late teens.
Imagine these four teen friends being chained and marched to Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem. Imagine their conversations among themselves as they made the long, long walk. It may have been during this time they resolved among themselves, not just to refuse to compromise, but to reverse the very culture they were being immersed in.
And that’s exactly what they did.
After seeing three of the four survive the fiery furnace (with not even a singed beard) and hearing Daniel prophesy seven years of humbling insanity for the proud king, Nebuchadnezzar had a full mental break down. For seven years he became King Crazy Hobo. He slept outside, grew his fingernails as long as talons and ate grass with his bovine buddies.
After seven years of pure craziness the king came to his senses, humbled himself and turned to the true God of the universe in faith. He actually wrote Daniel 4 to share his salvation story. He ended the chapter with these words, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
The mightiest King of one of the mightiest empires in human history was brought to his knees by the testimony of one prophesying young man, three uncompromising young men and seven insane years of judgment.
Imagine the implications throughout Babylon at the conversion of the King. No longer would Jews have to hide or hold their heads in shame. The king served their King! And it all started because four teenagers made a pact to serve God wholeheartedly when they were whisked away to a foreign culture.
In the same way, a small but determined team of uncompromising teenagers can learn to reverse the pagan culture they have been immersed in. They don’t need to protest or picket the pagan culture around them. They don’t need to burn their laptops or throw their smartphones in the trash. Instead they need to infiltrate this culture, accelerate in it and then reverse it through the power of prayer, uncompromising conviction and a bold-meets-loving-meets-shrewd proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.