Finally! We are out of the first stage of child rearing, praise the Lord! Finished with diapers, super late nights and early mornings. All of the kids can feed themselves and use the bathroom. They can even shower independently and help clear the dishes meals. Ending this stage of life brings a huge sigh of relief for my husband and me. Most days we felt like we were in survival mode just trying to make it through. Now that the children have all entered elementary school, our challenges are no less but very, very different. As they leave our home each morning, I am often praying that they will be able to live in the world without being of the world. That’s certainly difficult concept to explain to a young child and something that makes much more sense as their relationship with Jesus grows over time. As parents we are now in the teaching and guiding stage. They rarely understand why we make certain decisions or why we set up restrictions for their protection. We are not always the most well liked parents and we have already heard of how uncool we are because “everyone else is allowed to do or have _______” (and we don’t even have teenagers, yet).
I love reading the books of the Old Testament to my kiddos. They speak of real life people, their experiences and the lessons they learned. Daniel is a great example of one who lived in the world but was not of the world. He was taken from the comfort of his home, surroundings, and family and plopped down in the middle of a foreign country to serve a pagan king. Everything he grew up knowing was put to the test. But despite the change in his environment and surroundings, Daniel maintained his faith in the one true God. He remained faithful and lived with integrity even when the king commanded him to do something against his spiritual beliefs. Daniel did not give in and the Lord rewarded him for his faith.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine that he drank. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:8a, 9
Daniel faced many challenges particularly in relation to his faith while in the king’s court. The world he was thrown into was not one whose goal was to glorify God and serve him but to serve a pagan human king. Daniel maintained his integrity and faith and knew that answering to the Lord was far greater than answering to the king.
After reading this story with my kids and talking about living in the world, we tried to come up some modern day examples of things they are asked to do that would compromise our integrity and beliefs. In Daniel’s case, he was asked to eat foods that were offered to idols and to bow down and worship the king’s golden image. Today, it may be listening to music that’s not encouraging and uplifting, watching a movie, TV show or video game that has inappropriate content or pressure to use foul language.
Like Daniel, Christ lived away from his home when he came to earth to save us from our sin. He experienced the trials and tribulations that we suffer and was even tempted to sin. He knew as long as we live in the world, we will be tempted to become part of it. He even prayed for us.
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth. John 17: 15-19
Instead of becoming part of the world, the Lord wants us to be separate and share His love with others. We are here to glorify and worship Him alone no matter the cost. It is becoming more and more difficult to carry out this mission in our culture. As Christians, we are looking more and more foolish to the unbelieving world where the lines between right and wrong and good and evil are beyond blurred. We must pray for our children daily as they learn to live out their faith.
Dear Jesus. Help us as we live in this world to remain faithful to your call and be separate from this world. Help us to lead our children with truth and wisdom. Amen.