The Rooted Youth Ministries at FBC have launched in earnest for the 2017-18 school year. With this new school year comes new faces, new opportunities, and a new chance to define and strengthen the core of our calling in this place at this time in the history of FBC and Jesup, GA. As we have begun our school year we have also begun a study of the book of Daniel, and in so doing the questions have quickly been brought to our attention “who am I” and “whose am I.”
Daniel was living in exile, torn from his friends, his family, and his faith. His Babylonian captors quickly implemented a reeducation program for Daniel and his fellow Judean captives that involved training in the faith and literature of the Babylonians, renaming these young men in accord with the Babylonian gods, and applying a dietary regimen foreign to the faith of Israel. It was in this initial moment with the kings’ chief official that Daniel had a decision to make: where was he going to draw the line?
Daniel took it upon himself to learn the language and literature, he showed no sign of balking at the new name given him, but when it came to his diet Daniel felt the need to stand up to his captors. It may seem strange to us, but for Daniel and his people, their diet was a central component of what set them apart as belonging to the God of Israel. For him, what he consumed defined who he was and Whose he was.
This semester we are learning from Daniel about how to deal with living in a foreign land. We may not often think of it this way, but we too are in exile, caught between two kingdoms. Each day we make the decision whether we will live as a citizen of the world or a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and as we do so we either fulfill the missionary purpose God has given us in this world or we fail to live as those who belong to Jesus.
If we take this lesson and apply it to our youth ministry as a whole we can begin to get a picture of our purpose and call in this time and place. We exist at this time, in this place, not just as a lose group of friends with a common belief, but more so as exiles bound together by a common mission to the foreign land in which we live. We meet together to be equipped for the purpose of knowing God and making Him known, to uphold and sustain one another in the work of the everlasting kingdom. We work ever with an outward focus, knowing that in Christ the hope not only of we the exiles but of the whole world is found.
So when it comes to living in this world “where will we draw the line?” We, like Daniel, live in the midst of our culture, we learn its language and literature, we contribute our good to it, we even at times accept the culture’s naming of us, but we never compromise on who we are and whose we are. We belong to Christ, bought with the blood of the Exile of Heaven, the One who became a servant of all, that He might bring us back to Himself. This is the message we carry. This is the purpose of our exile here. May we be known as those who bear the name of Christ and reveal to the world who He is, the One who is the true Lord of all!
Soli Deo Gloria!