Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Story Chapter 18 - Daniel in Exile

I was born and raised in Massachusetts. I live in Texas. Shortly after I had moved to the Lone Star State I came across a bumper sticker - "Keep Texas beautiful. Put a Yankee on a bus." Although that sentiment has not been characteristic of my life in Texas, I know how it feels to be an outsider. People talk differently, the food is different, customs are different and sometimes I have struggled just to fit in. All in all, the jokes and the jabs have all been in fun but still there is some discomfort in being a "foreigner.".

Yet, my experience is minimal in comparison to what the Jews experienced as they were exiled to Babylon. The jokes and jabs were not in fun. In fact, the differences that existed were often times a matter of life and death. Conformation was often not an option, but a state-mandated requirement. This is the dilemma that Daniel and his three cohorts (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) find themselves in and the same dilemma faces all of us today. We Christians live in an alien culture that is often inhospitable to serious disciples of Christ. And many times the jokes and jabs are not all in fun. Daniel stands as an example of how to live as a serious believer in a culture that strongly discourages such a lifestyle. We can all learn a lesson or two from our friend Daniel who boldly resists conformation to the ungodly culture he finds himself in.

Lesson One: Resolve to be different when the differences matter. Right off the bat it is said of Daniel that he resolved not to be defiled by the royal food and wine. Daniel had already made a decision that here were some things that were non-negotiables. We must resolve to stay true to those habits and practices which define us as disciples.

Lesson Two: Daniel maintained godly habits in spite of their censorship in the foreign culture. Daniel's practice was to pray three times a day. This was not something he decided to do just when in trouble or when he needed to impress his colleagues. Daniel practiced this spiritual disciple on a regular basis. We must stay true to those godly habits that help form us as disciples.

Lesson Three: Daniel was committed to endure suffering when threatened to compromise. He and his three cohorts had a "come what may" attitude when threatened by punishment and even death when their convictions conflicted with the king's decrees. It was this willingness to die for a cause that eventually brings God glory that never would have been possible had they given in. We must be willing to suffer if we want to make changes in our culture.

Resolve, discipline, and commitment are three components of faithfully and successfully living as an outsider. So, stay true to who you are even if they threaten to put you on a bus!

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