When the Culture Wines and Dines Your Teenager
This is heady stuff for a bunch of high schoolers. This is a taste of the high life—food from the king’s table. Once you get a taste of the high life, it’s difficult to settle for anything else. This was all part of the king’s strategy.
Daniel decided not to eat from the king’s table. I’m convinced he abstained from the king’s table, not because of conscience, but because he understood what was happening. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to overwhelm him with the opportunities of life in Babylon.
Daniel was determined to live and prosper in Babylon, but he would never allow Babylon to consume his heart. He would never forget that he served a greater king. But he needed some way to keep that fixed in his mind. So he chose to turn down a daily visit to the top restaurant in town, and instead eat his brown bag lunch of vegetables.
Are you realistic about the pressure of the world that is on you and your family? Every day you’re bombarded by a view of life that is self-centered and completely secular, “Nothing in this world matters more than you.” If you’re to survive as a believer in this secular culture, you’ll need to develop the ability to say “no.”
What the grace of God teaches us
“Daniel resolved not to defile himself...” Daniel 1:8
There was a decision here—an act of the will. This is critical to an effective Christian life, “The grace of God... teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness” (Titus 2:11).
There would come a day when a future king would sign an edict calling on everyone to pray in the name of the king (Daniel 6:6). When that day came, Daniel would have the strength to say “no.” If you do not develop the ability to say “no” on smaller issues, you will never be able to say no when the big tests and temptations come.
Some of us operate as if the only question to be answered in the practical decisions of life is, “Is it right or wrong?” But what we should be asking is, “Is it wise?” Let’s get practical. What films should you watch? What time should you be home? What company should you keep? On what should you spend your money? How will you make sure your soul is not consumed with the opportunities that surround you, so that your distinctive allegiance to God becomes nothing more than a memory?
Notice the influence on his friends. When Daniel takes the lead in abstaining from the king’s food, his four friends find the courage to do the same. Your decisions have an influence on other people, increasing the pressure on them or increasing their strength.
You’re in a battle for your soul
“Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10
As you read the book of Daniel, you’ll notice his relentless pursuit of reading the Scripture and prayer. It is not enough to exercise the restraint that keeps you from being consumed by the world. If you’re going to be faithful to Christ in an alien culture, you must cultivate a personal walk with God. Daniel went home after his lectures and filled his mind with truth. He withdrew to be alone with and to talk with God.
Do you realize that you’re in a battle for your soul? The issues would be so much clearer if we were under persecution, but we’re not. We’re surrounded by Babylon’s open doors of opportunity. We’re enticed by all its consuming luxury. Are you realistic about the pressure that brings on your soul? Are you resolute about faithfulness to God? Are you relentless in the pursuit of spiritual disciplines? If you’re not, it may not be long before everything that is distinctively Christian will be eroded from your life!
The unexpected influence of a secular education
“He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.” Daniel 1:4
Let me say a word to parents who are sometimes distressed over some of the things that your children are taught in secular schools. They are studying literature that is sometimes in direct contradiction to all that you cherish.
This is nothing new. It is exactly the situation that was faced by Daniel. I find it a great encouragement that God has given us a model of how one godly youngster and a group of his friends stood against that pressure so that, far from their secular education undoing them, it was actually the making of them. In the goodness of God, their Babylonian education became the anvil on which their faith was hammered into maturity.
This week's Scripture: 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. Daniel 1:5
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This LifeKey based on the message “Alien,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, delivered November 26, 2000, from the series “Unlocking the Bible.” Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.