When we go to Israel with our church, part of the trip is to see the sights. The other part is to get to know the people. We visit with Israeli’s, Muslims living in Israel, Christian Arabs, Messianic Jews, Jews and immigrants. The immigrants are brought in and placed in high rise apartment buildings where for a couple of years they are taught the language, the customs and the culture. Once completed, they become citizens. The process works well except for people from Ethiopia. They struggle to assimilate into a first world country. It’s difficult for Ethiopians to go from a rural, agrarian lifestyle to the high paced world of what we are accustomed to live in. They actually have their own building, farm land and a different time table to help them adjust since they don’t readily accept the culture.
In Daniel 1, King Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and took the best looking, brightest young men of Israel back to Babylon. Daniel was among those captured. The king said, “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men. Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon” (NLT). He was trying to assimilate them into Babylonian culture. Most men were indoctrinated, but Daniel and his three friends refused to assimilate. They showed that it is possible to live and learn in a culture without accepting it and allowing it to change your beliefs.
Romans 12:2 says, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes” (TPT). We live in a culture that is trying to get us to change our beliefs, our way of thinking and our way of living. It is trying to get the Word of God to conform to its standards rather than the
other way around. We cannot allow ourselves to be shaped into its mold which is why we must be transformed from the inside out. We can go through all the indoctrination of our culture and still live a life that is holy and acceptable to Christ. In order to have the resolution that Daniel had, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit and have a steady diet of God’s Word going into our mind. It’s not easy to do, but is necessary as believers to live according to God’s laws and customs rather than the world’s.