Sermon:  Visitor's Guide to Babylon

Summary:  We need to realize that we are strangers and aliens in this word and should 
therefore not compromise our identity as blood bought children of God.  Our purpose 
is not to fit in, nor is it to separate ourselves from the world, but to engage the world 
with the compassion and grace of God and draw them to Christ.

Know:  We are called both out of the world yet to the world as witnesses for Christ

Feel:  A sense citizenship and connection to Christ above any connection in this world

Do:  Reflect on and identify challenges to your Christian identity, and formulate ways to 
meet those challenges while carrying out your purpose as Christians.

Text:  Daniel 1:1-8

Scripture Reading:  1 Tim 6:17-18

1.  Have you ever been to a foreign country?
2.  Title:  Visitor's Guide to Babylon
	a.  May think of the ruins, physical Babylon no longer exists
	b.  Watershed event for Israel - Pre-Babylon & Post Babylon
		- Took them away to foreign land and resettled them there
		- Had to rethink their faith. Crisis.  How can we be God's people in a 
 		  foreign land under a foreign king
	c.  But that was not the only Babylon.  
		- Peter wrote from "Babylon," meaning Rome
		- In Revelation, Babylon a cosmic symbol for the forces that tempt 
		   and lure God's people away from him
		- Babylon is the place where our faith is under attack
	d.  What that means is that we live in Babylon
3.  Peter says we are strangers and aliens
	a.  This world is not our home
	b.  How are we to live while we are here
4.  (Dan 1:1-8) Visitor's Guide to Babylon.  Need to remember --

I.  Remember who you are
	A.  Only by remembering can you be faithful to heritage in Christ
	B.  Daniel lived in a foreign land
		1.  Went to Ivy league school - Emperor University of Babylon
			a.  Best education, choicest food
			b.  Hey, this exile thing not so bad after all
			c.  He could go along with it, or rebel and die
		2.  (v.8) Daniel made up his mind ahead of time to stay pure
		3.  Pressure tremendous to fit in
			a.  Wanted him to talk, walk, think, dress like a Babylonian
			b.  Name changes
			      - Hananiah (The Lord is Gracious)
				becomes:  Shadrach (Command of Aku)
			      - Mishael (Who is what God is) 
				becomes:  Meshach (Who is what Aku is)
			      - Azariah (The Lord has helped) 
				becomes: Abednego (Servant of Nebo)
			      - Daniel (God my judge)  
				becomes: Belteshezzar (Make Balak protect us)
		4.  Text still calls him Daniel - He born Daniel, would die Daniel
	C.  ILL:  Watched the movie series, "roots" with my boys a few years ago
		1.  Kunta-Kinte - Called him Tobi
		2.  Always Kunta-Kinte on the outside
		3.  Heart was always in Africa
		4.  (Psalm 137:1-6) - NEVER will forget my heritage in strange land
	D.  In Babylon, you will have many stations in life
		1.  Student, intern, doctor, teacher, business man, etc.
		2.  Remember that our citizenship is in Heaven
		3.  God created you  to serve Him in ALL you do
			a.  In the classroom, in your club, on the job
			b.  We belong to him and serve him
		4.  Remember who you are - God's servant

II.  Refuse the Mark
	A.  Another word is "syncretism" 
		1.  Definition:  The attempted combination of different systems of 
		     belief & practice
		2.  A similar word - Synchronize (has to do with time)
		3.  It means "fitting in"
		4.  We live in a "melting pot" - That is syncretism
	B.  Daniel addresses this challenge
		1.  (Dan 3:14-18) - Shadrach Meshach and Abednego
			a.  They didn't bow down to the statue
			b.  Could have done it AND continue to worship
			c.  No, they stayed Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah
			d.  They refused syncretism
		2.  Dan 6:6-10 - Daniel always prayed in spite of threats
		3.  Last part of Daniel - Apocalyptic visions
			a.  Cosmic powers behind the scenes 
				- They will try to draw you away from God
				- God will take care of them
			b.  Purpose was to encourage faithfulness to God
		4.  (Rev 13:11-17) - The mark is NOT a UPC code
			a.  Mark in ancient times represented emperor worship
				- Rome was quite tolerant of all religions
				- One act required once a year - Emperor worship
				- Burn some incense, declare Caesar is Lord, that's it
				- You could worship any god you wanted
			b.  If perform this duty, got a certificate
				- Says you performed this duty
				- Citizen in good standing in Rome
				- Without it, subject to isolation or persecution
				- Majority of people did this
			c.  Jews and Christians refused to do this 
				- Jesus is Lord
				- Believers seen as obstinate, stubborn, unpatriotic
				- Christians were in the minority at his point
			d.  Some went along with the crowd rather than stand out
	C.  ILL:  Chuck Swindoll tells story of a spider, built beautiful house
		1.  Kept it clean and shiny so flies would patronize it
			a.  When fly would visit, he would clean up quickly
			b.  This way other flies wouldn't get suspicious
		2.  One day a fairly intelligent fly flew by
			a.  Spider said, "come on in and have a seat"
			b.  Fly said, "No, I see no other flies, I'm not going in alone!"
		3.  Then saw many flies by the floor dancing on brown paper
			a.  He was delighted, all the flies doing it, nothing to fear
			b.  Started to go in for a landing
			c.  Bee nearby said, "Don't land there stupid, thats fly paper!"
		4.  Fly said, "Don't be silly, the flies are dancing, having good time"
			a.  There's a big crowd down there, they are all doing it!
			b.  Fly went in for a landing, and died on that very spot.
	D.  Don't get sucked in
		1.  Whether think of it in terms of syncretism, a mark, or flypaper
		2.  There are many kinds of marks
			a.  Usually think of, "Hey let's go smoke pot."
			b.  Can be so much more subtle
			c.  Buy into philosophy that God is what you do in church
		3.  Your life is your ministry
			a.  In class, sports, drama, on the job, 
			b.  It is all your ministry
			c.  It is not what you do here on Sunday
III.  Realize Your Purpose
	A.  Our purpose is not just to stay unspotted by the world
		1.  Daniel refused to compromise in Babylon, but didn't run away
		2.  Daniel was highly valued by his superiors because of his 
		     character which stemmed from his faith
		3.  Daniel bore witness to his God not only in the job that he did, but 
		     by openly professing his faith and loyalty to God
			a.  More than once, Daniel stood before kings
			b.  Without hesitation, he attributed his life to God
	B.  Jesus made it clear that our purpose is to be light and salt
	C.  A teen boy went away for summer, became Christian in youth group
		1.  Getting ready to go back home worried about falling away
			a.  Love of family, friends, and old life draw him away
			b.  His friends were not Christians
			c.  They were generally peaceful people
		2.  Advice of the youth minister
			a.   Be careful to make public confession of your faith in 
			      Christ, not have to worry
			b.  You will not have to give up your friends, they will give 
			     you up
		3.  Went home, best friend came over
			a.  How was your summer?  Greatest thing happened!
			b.  What?  Did you get engaged?  No.  Became a Christian
			c.  Friends attitude changed.
			d.  Same pattern with several friends
		4.  Some friends distanced themselves, others drawn to him more
			-  Some wound up becoming Christians themselves
	D.  Demonstrate your faith in Christ
		1.  Through holiness, compassion, and grace, 
		2.  Through making your love for God explicit in words and deeds

1.  Remember, Babylon is not your home
	a.  You are a visitor here
	b.  Your home is with God in his house
	c.  It is not in the world
2.  Are you ready when Jesus returns?  (Invitation)
3.  Don't get too comfortable
	a.  Remember who you are
	b.  Refuse the Mark
	c.  Realize your purpose

Small Group Notes:  Visitor's Guide to Babylon

Summary:  We need to realize that we are strangers and aliens in this word and should 
therefore not compromise our identity as blood bought children of God.  Our purpose 
is not to fit in, nor is it to separate ourselves from the world, but to engage the world 
with the compassion and grace of God and draw them to Christ.

Open (Choose one):
- What is the reason you were named what you are?
- Have you every had any interesting nicknames?

Explore (Dan 1:1-14):

1.  Why do you suppose the chief official changed the name of the Israelites?  What 
challenges might this pose to them?

2.  What effect did the name change have and Daniel and his friends?  Explain your 

3.  What other challenges Daniel face?  If Daniel lived today, how might people view him?

4. (Dan 3:24-30)  What effect did Daniel and his friends have on the king?  What impresses 
you most about this story?  What challenges you the most?


5.  Reflect on and identify challenges to your Christian identity.  

6.  What are some good ways for you to meet these challenges?  What are some bad ways 
for you to meet these challenges?

7.  What should be your Christ like attitude toward our current day "Babylon?"  Considering 
the example of Daniel, his friends, and especially Christ, in what ways can you balance "living 
in Babylon" with carrying out your God-given purposes in it?  

1 Tim 6:17-18