If you ever feel like the culture has changed so much that you’re like an alien – take heart. God has a way of showing favor to people like Daniel, and you.
Text: “And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,” (Daniel 1:9, ESV)
While preaching this series on Daniel, I distinctly sensed the Lord saying to me, “Alan, the sooner you accept the fact that you’re a missionary to your own culture, the happier you’ll be.”
It might be a word for you as well.
Think of it this way: what do missionaries do? They learn the ways of a foreign culture so they can love the people and share the Gospel. Some years ago, we helped send a couple from our church to Malawi where they planned to build wells for impoverished peoples. One of their early financial needs was to hire a tutor to teach them the local language. They spent their first time and money learning the culture. Why? Missionaries accept the fact that the culture isn’t Christian. They accept the fact that God has placed them strategically to share Christ and they want to know how to relate to the people in order to love them well in Jesus’ name.
But, here at home in the U.S., we only grow frustrated when we find ourselves surrounded by an unchurched society. Some years ago, best-selling author Eric Metaxas impacted me with a comment he made during an address he gave at our church.
“Here’s the irony,” Metaxas said. “We raise money and send missionaries to love the world yet we grow frustrated and curse our neighbors because they don’t go to church on Sunday morning.”
Like so many Christians, my frustrations with the pagan practices of my own country can mount. But what do you expect? Non-Christians aren’t going to act like Christians.
Daniel was a remarkable, gifted man who God deposited in the middle of the pagan Babylonian empire. The study of Daniel helps answer the question: “How are Christians supposed to relate to culture?” The answer is nuanced and multi-textured, but this much is clear: Daniel was a favored foreigner. Instead of cursing our culture, we’re called to love. And we’re called to expect God to put His hand on us for His purposes. And that’s the Gospel!