Summer Days – May 15th
Summer is just around the corner. While students begin to anticipate the fun and freedom summer brings, parents anticipate the siblings arguing and annoying each other all day, all week, all summer long. You could say summer includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Regardless of the drama, our students want to have a great summer. Whether they want big vacations or time spent with friends, summer is a moment for memories to be created.
In our culture today, we have established a “Keeping up with the Jones’” mentality. We compare ourselves to the best. We compare vacations, clothes, outings, etc. Thanks to social media, our students don’t escape this during the summer. Students can look at instagram accounts and compare the summer they are having to those of their friends. The desire is for their summer to be of significance.
This week we will be looking at Daniel’s life, and how he lived a life of significance in the midst of his culture. When we read Daniel 1, we see a culture being forced upon another country. In verse 8 we see Daniel’s response to this new culture – “8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel decided to not partake in this new culture. The food they were asking him to eat went against the laws of the Old Testament, the laws that were placed in order to help Daniel follow after God’s heart. This had to be difficult. His decision to refrain from what the King asked of him could have resulted in death! But he stood his ground and we see God showed him favor. He grew in strength instead of becoming weaker.
It’s a cool story to read and see that Daniel’s decision to stand up for what he believed resulted in such a positive way. The thought might be for us to stand up for what we believe, to refrain from the culture around us, to make an impact on others. I think two of those three thoughts are good. We are called to stand up for what we believe so that God might impact others, but it does not always require us to refrain from ALL culture.
Daniel was also asked to learn the literature and language of this new culture and he didn’t refrain from these things. Learning new things did not go against the bible. But, at that time scripture was clear about the food laws, and Daniel resolved to continue following them. While in today’s time we don’t uphold all the laws written in the Old Testament we are given guidelines to help us live our lives throughout the bible.
Example – Love your neighbor as yourself. When we live in a culture where criticism is given even when unwarranted (particularly through social media) we are called to continue loving others. Maybe this means refraining from calling someone “stupid” on the Internet or maybe this means giving encouragement in the midst of a disagreement. But adding hate and judgment is clearly not a way to love others. So how do we stand up for what we believe in and allow God to make an impact on others while being in the midst of a different culture?
Talk to your students this week about what culture says their summer should look like. How can they live a summer of significance in the midst of our society while staying true to what they believe? How can you help them accomplish this?