Courage to Be Different

In her book Set-Apart Femininity: God's Sacred Intent for Every Young Woman (Harvest House, 2008, p. 89), author Leslie Ludy said she read a speech given by a Jewish father at his son's bar mitzvah. He told his son not to apologize for being Jewish, but to embrace the holy calling of being a Jew.

"To be holy is to be different," the father said. "That which is holy is set apart. What is a Jew? It is the courage to be different. While the rest of the world strives to be loved, the Jew strives to be holy. While the rest of the world strives to impress their fellow man, the Jew strives to impress none but God alone." *

Ludy continued, "A set-apart young woman has the courage to be different." I thought, it's not just young women who need to hear that. I need to have the courage to be different!

Daniel dared to be different. I remember singing about him in Sunday school. "Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!" (lyrics, Philip Bliss)

Daniel ~ captured by a pagan nation and taken far from home (Daniel 1:1-6) ~ could have succumbed to the traditions around him. But no. Daniel knew who he was. He knew whose he was. And he knew his significance was wrapped up in who God said he was.

Daniel resolved to identify with God and serve Him alone, no matter what happened in his new surroundings. His resolve influenced his choices, too (Daniel 1:8-16). He (and his three friends) refused the King's defiling food, and God honored their integrity. Daniel's resolve was evidence of his courage, but his courage arose out of his commitment.

We all are called, from time to time, to make courageous choices about who we will serve ~ God or the world system (or Satan or self or any number of false idols). We have to decide, well in advance, who is our Lord. When the king required that Daniel worship an an image he erected, Daniel refused. He knew that Nebuchadnezzar was not the one true God. He would not bow down to this false god, no matter the consequences.

The wonderful conclusion to the book of Daniel is that after all of his trials ~ including being tossed to some lions (Daniel 6:13-24) ~ Daniel survived. And he not only survived, he thrived! History records that God made him a man of influence far beyond King Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.

I don't know what is ahead for America. In spite of thousands of churches, it is getting harder to stand for God. Or maybe, it's getting easier to compromise. We need men and women of courage, not afraid to be set-apart for God. God desires holy, revived, kingdom-focused children. We need people to model the love of God and truth of the Word of God. We need clear-sounding voices in days of moral mush.

And by God's grace, I will be one of those voices.

Will you, too, stir up the courage within to stand for Christ? Don't be afraid. The Lord will be your helper and never leave your side (Hebrews 13:5b-6). Like Daniel, have courage to be different.

* Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Never Fear Being Hated, adapted from an address
by Rabbi Shmuley to his son Mendy in synagogue on May 6, 2006.

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