Ever been on a restrictive diet or significantly altered your eating habits? It’s never an easy thing. I’ve also found it’s not easy when you have to eat with others or at restaurants and your meals have serious limitations. Maybe you have food allergies, or health restrictions that drastically change what you can and cannot eat. Maybe you’re simply trying to eat healthier or make a positive change to your lifestyle. Daniel, a prophet in the Hebrew Bible, faces a major conflict over diet and faith when he (and his friends) are brought to serve the emperor of Babylon. Daniel firmly stands on his principles of what he can and cannot eat, his only power in an otherwise difficult and powerless circumstance. The story is a fascinating account of both courage and faithfulness to God, of young people committed to living their convictions in a hostile environment.
We’ve all been there. We’ve felt ourselves going against the tide. It happens to numerous characters in scripture: Daniel, Moses, all of the prophets, Jesus; they all take unpopular positions at one time or another. They stand for their convictions. Sometimes faith puts us in that difficult positon. We’re trying to hold fast to what we believe and claim it in our values, our morality. Sometimes we are pushing hard against the culture in which we live, trying not to be absorbed by larger values of consumption, pleasure-seeking, forces that do damage to our natural world and humanity. God stands with us. In our scripture this Sunday, God will help Daniel to stay true to what matters. It is sometimes a lonely place to be. It takes resolve that is nurtured and deepened by faith. God builds strength within us and helps us to hear that still, small voice that speaks to our heart and convictions. Paul reminds us in Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (12:1). Join us Sunday as we meet God who renews our faith, our thinking and our ability to stand strong.