“1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego” [Daniel 1:1-7]
We all know about Daniel and the Lion’s Den. Some of us know about Daniels’ friends in the fiery furnace. But one of the things that I feel like we gloss over is the fact that Daniel is in exile throughout his whole story. He is a Jew living in a Babylonian world. He goes to Babylonian schools and has a Babylonian job. He is selected for an elite educational and training program that will set him up for success.
Daniel is a great example of what it looks like to live “in but not of” the world, as Christians are called to live [John 17:16]. Daniel has the chance to go to the best school around, along with the most prestigious training program in the country. But is not without risk: Daniel is not allowed to openly express his faith without risking harm [more on this later].
As Christians, we need to walk a fine line between being citizens of a nation (Babylon could easily be the United States) and citizens of God (and not just your local church). God can (and will) certainly use your presence at work or in the public marketplace to demonstrate His glory and grace. But we cannot fall into the trappings of our host nation and forget that we are primary citizens elsewhere.
Questions for Reflection:
1. How would you explain ‘In but not of the world’ to someone?
2. What is one way you can offer Christ “in the world” this very day?