Date: September 17, 2023
Speak Truth Boldly
The Point: Being a bold witness for God sometimes means speaking hard truth.
Get Into the Study
After discussing Question #1, share the following illustration.
In the September 2023 edition of The Atlantic magazine, columnist David Brooks asked two questions. The first was “Why have Americans become so sad?” He mentioned the rising rates of depression, alcohol and drug use, and suicide as symptoms of this sadness. He noted that more than half of all Americans said that no one knows them well, and the percentage of high-school students who report “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” shot up to 44 percent in 2021.
The second question he asked was “Why has America gotten so mean?” Hate crimes rose in 2020 to their highest level in twelve years, and social trust is plummeting. Brooks said common words that define this present age are conspiracy, polarization, mass shootings, trauma, and safe spaces. He stated that he believed our nation is in an emotional, relational, and spiritual crisis that is being played out in the political dysfunction our nation is currently facing.
In a follow-up interview with Public Radio Station WUSF, Brooks noted that while many observers point to social media, along with technological, sociological, demographic, and economic factors contributing to this mean-spirited outlook, he believes the reason is much simpler.
“We inhabit a society in which people are no longer trained in how to treat others with kindness and consideration. Our society has become one in which people feel licensed to give their selfishness free rein.… In a healthy society, a web of institutions—families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces—helps form people into kind and responsible citizens, the sort of people who show up for one another. We live in a society that’s terrible at moral formation.”
Ask: Would you agree with David Brooks’ assessment of our present culture? If what he said is true, how should God’s people respond to the current cultural climate?
After allowing time for responses, say: If you remember how our study from Daniel 2 ended, Daniel was honored and promoted by Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 2:46-49) But now, there is a new ruler in Babylon and the nation is slowly crumbling. It is a new climate and a new culture that Daniel is facing, one that doesn’t know Daniel, nor does it honor Yahweh. Nevertheless, Daniel has a message from God.
Study the Bible
Before discussing Question #3, share the following illustration:
In today’s world, when people or organizations stand behind biblical principles that go against common cultural thought, criticisms and ostracism are bound to follow. Recently the U.S. Department of Education granted Baylor University an exemption to certain Title IX requirements referring to LBGTQ+ students. Baylor, and affiliate of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, argued that the federal government had previously recognized that the university is exempt from certain aspects of civil rights laws and certain requirements could infringe on Baylor’s rights to conduct its affairs in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs.
In May, Baylor President Linda Livingstone sent a letter to the federal education agency saying that because Baylor believes marriage is between a man and a woman and “affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God,” the university should be exempt from Title IX requirements that contradict those Baptist doctrines. In July, the exemption was granted.
Immediately the University was criticized, not only by LBGTQ+ organizations, but by other universities, civil rights groups, and political factions. All of this in spite of the assurances by Baylor administration that this exemption would in no way lessen their commitment to preventing harassment of any kind and protecting the rights of all students.
Lynn Riley is retired from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, where he served as a team member in the areas of evangelism and church health. He and his wife Cheryl live in Smyrna, Tn, where they are busy spoiling their grandchildren. They are members of Rolling Hills Community Church in Nolensville, TN.
- What are some careers/professions that regularly have to deliver bad news?
- When have you appreciated someone’s honesty?
- What language would you like to learn that you don’t already know?
- When has misunderstanding a sign gotten you in trouble?
- What are some practical ways we can seek the Lord now for insight and wisdom, so that we will be useful to God and others in the future?
- What are some words that describe the reputation of Christians in our culture today?
- Who do you know with a reputation for “extraordinary wisdom”?
- How might a life of integrity provide us the opportunity to share Christ?
- Where do you see evidence in our culture that people exalt themselves “against the Lord”?
- What do we risk when we speak boldly against sin in the world today?
- What do we stand to gain when we speak boldly against sin?
- What are some ways people exalt themselves over God today?
- How can believers humbly admonish a friend?
- What actions earn us the privilege or right to speak with someone about sin?
- How does our culture react to the idea of judgment?
- In what ways does our culture both reject the concept of judgment and embrace it?
For Those in Your Group
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Click here for a 20-minute podcast for both the group member and the leader.