I am enormously impressed by Daniel and his friends, and their resilience through the trauma of being torn away from their homes and exiled to Babylon at a young and very impressionable age. They didn’t let that experience result in a root of bitterness against the Babylonians; nor did they succumb to Stockholm syndrome by caving in and fully identifying with their captors.
Consummate insiders / stubborn outsiders.
They were able to maintain such poise that they were both consummate insiders and stubborn outsiders. Insiders because they really understood Babylon, loved their Babylonian friends and masters, and did their best for Babylon to flourish. Outsiders because they never let go of their core values, never compromised their supreme loyalty to the God of Israel, and never fudged the red lines that marked out the boundaries of that allegiance. As insiders they were a presence in Babylon – embedded in society as accessible influencers. As outsiders they were faithful to their LORD, His truth and His eternal kingdom.
What does this mean for us?
How can we be insiders in our culture, conversant with its language and culture and working for its success, so that we are not seen as freaks and have an audience when we speak? At the same time, how can we resist its blandishments and maintain our distinctive values, so we can clearly see its failings and have a prophetic voice?
If we are only insiders, we can no longer be spokespeople for God’s kingdom challenge.
If we are only outsiders, we are seen weirdos with a message that does not make sense.
Too far or not far enough?
Which way do you tend to lean – being a cosy insider or an abrasive outsider?
What do you think should be the red lines that define the boundary making us a distinctive community, so can stand together for the Gospel?
“You are the salt of the earth. If salt has lost its savour, it is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out.”
Matthew 5:13 – 16