Daniel stood firm and loved everyone around him—just like Jesus did. Just like we’re called to do when culture shifts. I know it’s not easy to balance truth and grace in the midst of such drastic cultural change. It’s easier to disengage and try to avoid culture altogether. It’s easier to judge and condemn those who don’t agree with us. And it’s just as easy to acquiesce and accept anything and everything. But that’s not what we’re called to do or who we’re called to be. While God calls us to be his people set apart, he also commands us to go into all the world and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
The same problem that existed in biblical times continues to challenge us today: how can we remain anchored in our Christian faith when the white-water rapids of cultural change threaten to carry us away? How do we respond when culture shifts? Do we shift with it and “go with the flow”? If not, how do we interact meaningfully with a world that seems upside down to everything we believe?
From the day Daniel arrived in Babylon, he stood strong in his faith. His example shines across the centuries and provides us with a clear model of how to live a godly life in an evil culture. We don’t have to compromise our beliefs or actively participate in an “anything goes” mind-set. Nor do we have to sacrifice respectful relationships with others by judging and condemning them.
We can find a balance between bowing down and being a doormat and becoming hardened into a ramrod of self-righteousness. But avoiding these extremes requires humility, compassion, and dependence on God. It won’t be easy. We will only reflect who he truly is, both his holy righteousness and his gracious love, by relying on his Spirit to guide us.
Like the prophet Daniel, you and I can become catalysts for redemptive change in our time. We can be people of influence who know our goal is not to be right but to be effective. We can be people who stand out because of the way we relate to others, especially those different from us. We can be people who serve those in need with a willing spirit and gracious generosity. We can be people who reflect the loving-kindness of a good God.
We can be people who stand firm and love well.