Rachel is a young Christian woman and she is thinking about becoming a diplomat in the Foreign Office. She is challenged by a Christian friend who tells her that she will be wasting her life by going into such a ‘worldly’ and political profession. Again, and again, we can come up against this attitude, can’t we? The attitude that wants to create a hierarchy of callings. How do you love God in your job when it involves dealing with shady characters, compromised situations and ethical dilemmas? The OT book of Daniel can help us think through this issue.
Daniel was a learned man and he would have known that God’s law is not devoted exclusively to so-called ‘spiritual’ concerns, but he would also have known that he was living in a very different culture, a very different state, with different rules and codes.
How could he live out God's story with any integrity in such a broken, pagan culture? We get an insight into Daniel's diplomatic skills early on in his career when the question of diet reared its ugly head in chapter 1. If Daniel had resorted to a confrontational style or mockery of the Babylonian diet, his plan would have failed. He stays gracious and he keeps negotiating. He suggests a closed-door experiment, a dietary test, for himself and his three Jewish colleagues (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah). Ashpenaz agrees to this.
Fast forward ten days. Daniel and his three friends have passed the test with flying colours and Ashpenaz has ordered their diet permanently changed. So coming back to our friend Rachel, having read about Daniel and Jesus' teachings, she explains to her dualistic friend that Jesus had some very positive things to say about diplomacy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Diplomats are, of course, in a job where they can really take these words seriously and do something to stop wars and its ensuing destruction, misery and bloodshed.
Today, as in the time of Jesus and Daniel, ambassadors, diplomats, negotiators, mediators, and relevant others need great skill in communications, a deep knowledge of other cultures and politics, and a good handle on the actual problems. In the murky world of Babylonian politics, Daniel sought the wisdom of God to tell His story. Are you in an area of work that you feel is constantly compromised by the world? Your calling is not to abandon God as you walk through the door, but to bring transformation with wisdom that is deeper than that which the world can offer.