Yesterday I had the privelege of teaching the 4th and 5th graders at church about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel’s good friends, and how they handled the command by King Nebuchadnezzar to fall down and worship the monstrous idol he constructed whenever they hear music being played.
Long story short, they refused, and were thrown into a blazing furnace – a furnace so hot the guards who threw them in immediately melted and died. LUCKFULLY, Our Lord saved them from harm, and in the process so impressed King Nebuchadnezzar that he decreed all the people’s of the land of Babylon would worship the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego! WOW!
I love that story. If you don’t know it, you can find it in Daniel chapter 3 . You will love it too, no doubt.
So – as I was preparing for this lesson, I kept asking my wife “what would you do?”. When King Nebuchadnezzar decreed all persons will fall down and worship his idol or persish in the fire – “what would you do?”. When the king threatened Shadreach, Meshach and Abednego to their faces with a treacherous death in the furnace – “what would you do?”. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood their ground, knowing they were destined for the furnace – “what would you do?”.
Note that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had faith God would deliver them from peril – but they did not have a guarantee! From verses 16-18 of chapter 3:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
They were willing to die in the flames, instead of worship the golden statue, and so break God’s heart. What would you do?
Now – we’re most likely not going to be faced with a decision over our very lives such as this. At least not today in the United States. We should take a moment and realize this kind of thing DOES happen throughout the world today. And we are not guaranteed we will NEVER face something such as this.
But – what about the things we do face? Being mocked for our beliefs – do we stand up and take it, or do we try and mock back? Or worse – DENY we know Jesus, like Peter did?
What if we are around friends or co-workers engaging in inappropriate conversations? I myself WAS that innaprpriate person in my past, often innitiating that sort of conversation. How would I handle it now, if I’m suddenly pulled into one? Would I stand up and try and correct my friends? Or at least try and walk away from it? Or worse – ENGAGE in it, just to fit in? While I’ve not had to engage in it recently, I must confess I HAVE allowed some foul language to come from my mouth when in the presence of my potty-mouth friends. I STILL do that from time to time, when I could instead just not participate. Instead pray for my friends. Instead seek strenght from the Lord.
Recently, a friend was telling me all about a trip to a tropical region, where they visited some Mayan temples. Before they could enter, they had to participate in a Mayan religious ritual. Basically – you participate, or you don’t go. What would you do? Would you refuse, and miss out, and possibly be scorned by friends and family? Or would you participate, even faking it, and so grieve the Lord?
Or how about if we have a worldview that is different than much of the world? Will we speak boldly, in love, the truth? Or will we live as if our worldview, or Lord, isn’t important enough to share with those who don’t yet know him?
Most of these things are things we probably run into on a daily basis, in some form or another. None of them will get us killed, at least not here in the US. And all of them are harmless, right?
Or are they?
From Mark 8:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”