When considering the relationship between God and country, as a Christian I am brought back to Daniel and his relationship to Babylon. As a young man, Daniel was taken from Jerusalem and trained in the culture of his captors.
“Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:3-4, ESV).
However, as we find out later in the chapter, Daniel was not corrupted by what was by and large an evil Babylonian culture.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself” (Daniel 1:8, ESV).
I think that this helps frame our understanding of the relationship between a government that we might not agree with and following God.
Daniel did not compromise as he sought to follow God in every area of his life. He would not eat Nebuchadnezzar’s food because he did not want to go against his convictions. He did work with the authorities where he could though
I think that this is part of what Jesus was talking about when He was praying the night before His crucifixion in John 17.
As we read from verses 14 to 18, we find out some key points that Jesus made about Himself and His followers:
· “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (14).
· “I do not ask that you take them out of the world” (15).
· “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (17)
· “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (18).
This request that Jesus made parallels with what we saw from Daniel.
He was not a Babylonian, and he was in a culture that was hostile to his own belief system. However, God did not call for him to withdraw; in fact, God caused him to thrive in such a way that he became one of the highest officials in Babylon. He held onto the Truth and ultimately fulfilled the mission that he was sent by God to do in the world around him rather than compromise his beliefs.
There is certainly a question of priorities however, and that is what we’re going to move into on Friday.