Dare to be Different
September is a month of change for our young people. For some, it is the start of a new term at school or university, while for others it is the start of a new place of training or moving into the world of work. All this change can be overwhelming. I still vividly remember when, as a teenager, I left the safe surroundings of home and went to live and study in Belfast. It was a daunting experience; and for all those who are setting out this September in a new stage of your life, the change, while it is exciting, can also be an anxious time. You can be taken out of your comfort zone. The challenge for the young Christian in these circumstances is to maintain and enhance their Christian witness. In an ever-increasing secular and sinful generation, the test for young believers is to be different and to stand up for Christ, wherever you study or work.
Daniel was a young believer who was taken out of his comfort zone. However, he maintained his witness for God, even in a hostile environment. He faced pressures, like all young people. There was the pressure of new surroundings. Life in Babylon was very different to life in Jerusalem. There was greater ungodliness – a more heathen way of life. As a result of this, he also faced the pressure of new schooling. In Jerusalem, he was schooled in the word of God; in Babylon, the schooling was the false teaching of man.
Young person, just like Daniel, in your new environment you will face similar pressures – pressures to conform to the world and to forsake your Christian upbringing and faith. However, learn from Daniel, because while Daniel faced pressure, he showed great purpose.
We read in Daniel 1:8, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat…” For Daniel to have taken this food and drink would have meant that he was giving credence and acceptance to false gods and so defiling himself; therefore, Daniel displayed purpose. The word ‘purpose’ means determination. He determined in this new environment, which was hostile to God, that he was going to keep himself pure. Young person, in this impure world, “keep thyself pure”.
The king then promoted Daniel, as a result of his purpose of heart. Daniel did not lower his standards in order to gain the acceptance of the world. He was faithful, and the Lord honoured him. He dared to be different, and the Lord used him.
Young believer, as you set out on a new pathway this September, either at school, university, or a new career – dare to be different for God. Do not compromise your faith or lower your standards in order to gain the acceptance of the ungodly. Honour God, and He will honour you.
Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to be Different.
Rev Garth Wilson
(Minister of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church and associate editor of Free Presbyterian Vision.)