In the book of Daniel, we read how King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and brought some of the strongest and healthiest young royals to his palace as captives. These young men were to be trained in the language and literature of Babylon and were to serve in the royal palace. Daniel and his four friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were among those taken captive. Once in Babylon, the king assigned them food and wine from his own kitchen. However, Daniel and his friends didn’t want to partake of it, as they knew it would defile them before God.
Daniel was a clever man, and he convinced the chief of staff to give the four of them vegetables and water for ten days and then to decide whether they could continue eating this way, or had to eat what the king ate. After ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than the other young men, so the chief of staff allowed them to continue with their diet.
A while later, King Nebuchadnezzar made a huge golden statue and ordered all the people in his country to bow down to it and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused and were thrown into a blazing furnace. But God was with them, and they came out of the furnace without even smelling of smoke. A number of years later, a new king was on the throne. He gave orders that all the people had to worship only him for thirty days. But Daniel continued to pray to God with the windows wide open towards Jerusalem. As punishment, he was thrown into the den of lions, but God was with him as well, and he wasn’t devoured. The Bible says, “Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God” (Daniel 6:23).
I guess you are wondering why I’m telling you these stories. You see, these four men were faithful to God. Though they were in an unfamiliar country among people who had different beliefs and customs, they didn’t copy the behaviour and customs of those around them. They didn’t forsake their faith in God simply to be accepted. They were not prepared to forsake their identity as God’s people but kept the Lord and His commands before them all the time.
In John 17, we read the prayer Jesus prayed for all His disciples. In verse 14 we read: “I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.” The people from Judah were captives in Babylon, but they still belonged to the Lord. They were in Babylon, but not of it. The same is true for us. We may be in this world, but we are not of it. We are citizens of heaven, children of the Most High God.
Not all the captives from Judah remained faithful to the Lord. Whether it was because of fear or because they wanted to be accepted, they ate the king’s food, bowed before his golden statue, and worshipped him for thirty days.
Some of God’s children do the same. They fear persecution, so they compromise and follow the ways and customs of the world. Others have a deep desire for acceptance, and they too are quick to do whatever the world does to be accepted.
But here’s the thing – in Christ, we have already been accepted (Ephesians 1:6, KJV)! God chose us before the foundation of the world to become His children. He loves us with unconditional and everlasting love, and nothing in all creation can separate us from His love. We have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus. We belong to Him!
Remember, you do not have to become like the world to be accepted by the people who are from the world.
You do not have to give up or compromise your identity in Christ to gain favour with the world.
It’s actually a good thing to feel you don’t belong here because you don’t!
You are in the world, but not of it. It will hate you because you don’t belong to it. But don’t compromise or lose heart. The Greater One is in you, and He has overcome the world.
Focus on His love for you. Remind yourself that you belong to Him. Do whatever you need to do to be like Daniel and his friends – faithful to the Lord.
You do not belong to this world.
You belong to God!