The world has changed so much that it might seem sometimes like you are a foreigner in your own culture. But take heart. The hand of the Lord is upon you. He can show you favor in a foreign land.
Text: “And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,” (Daniel 1:9, ESV)
I have friends who laugh and call me “Amish” because we watch The Andy Griffith Show, listen to Christian music, and homeschooled our kids. I know I ought to be more culturally relevant. But to be candid, I have little taste for so much of what the culture has to offer. Honestly, I feel like a fish out of water in a country that has become largely unchurched. I love church. I just about live in church. I love being with people who are interested in the deep things of God’s grace.
This month, we’ll discover in our study of Daniel something much more nuanced about the believer’s relationship to culture. Part of it is painful because Christians are terribly misunderstood by today’s world. When I use the analogy of being a “foreigner” or, as Peter says, “a pilgrim in this world,” I’m talking about the pain of being profoundly misconstrued by the culture.
Some years ago our church was beginning a facility expansion and the small group of neighbors around the church become afraid that we were going to spoil the beauty and serenity of the neighborhood. They were angry. They sued us to try to stop our expansion. They didn’t understand us at all. I think that’s when I started feeling like a foreigner. Our people were giving sacrificially to build space that would be a blessing to our community. We were building children’s classrooms and fellowship space. Church members gave willingly, lovingly, selflessly and, in turn, we were sued. That’s the depth of misunderstanding that Daniel must have felt in Babylon.
Daniel was a remarkable, handsome, gifted young man who lived in a volatile time in the life of Israel. The giant empire of Babylon overran little Israel in three waves about 600 years before Christ. Daniel and his friends were recruited to be among the first deported to Babylon and placed into the royal court of their captors where the king planned to indoctrinate them into Babylonian ways.
But while sojourning in the foreign land, Daniel received astonishing favor from God. He was a favored foreigner. In a deep sense, that’s who we are too. We’re aliens in the world –but we’re blessed and highly favored. And that’s the Gospel!