Karen Smith teaches Kindergarten at a Christian School just outside of Chicago, IL. A few years ago, during a presidential election, her class was talking about how important it is to vote. The kids asked Miss Karen who she voted for, and she told them that she is not allowed to vote here in the US because she is from England. She went on to tell them that a person from another country is called a "resident alien". It's interesting what sticks in the minds of children. Later that day, during a prayer, one of her students prayed, "Dear God, please help people to stop being mean to Miss Karen by calling her an 'alien'."*
We are fascinated with aliens. Television shows like My Favorite Martian, The X-Files or Third Rock From the Sun -- movies like E.T. or K-Pax -- we love stories about aliens.
I think one reason we love these stories is because there are times when we all feel like aliens. The Bible affirms this, calling us "aliens and strangers in this world" (1 Peter 2:11). There's something in us that feels like a fish out of water, something that knows we don't belong here, that we were made for something other than this, bigger than this. We resonate with stories of aliens, because we all know that -- to some extent -- we are aliens ourselves.
That's one reason why the story of Daniel is so important for us. Daniel spends most of his life in a land he never intended to inhabit. He lives and he dies as a stranger in a strange land. He shows us all how to live as resident aliens.
*UNLOCKING THE BIBLE VOL. 2 by Colin S. Smith (Chicago: Moody Publishing, 2002).