Thursday, June 16, 2011

We will not bow

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Daniel 3:8-25

TO CHEW ON: "But let it be known to you, O King, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." Daniel 3:18

This incredible story of God coming to the rescue of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego has always been one of my favourites. I find it interesting that in it, their friend and former spokesman, Daniel, wasn't with them. It was he who got them into this pickle, in a way. Because when he was promoted to governor in Babylon, it was on his request that his friends got the jobs and profile that they had (Daniel 2:49).

However, these three young men were stalwarts in their own right. They never for an instant considered bowing to that image. Their answer made it clear that they had counted the cost: "The God whom we serve is able to deliver us.... But if not, let it be known....we do not serve your gods nor will we worship the gold image" - Daniel 3:17-18.

Their chutzpah outraged the king who then commanded the penal fire, already prepared for anyone who dared defy his order, be heated seven times hotter.

He lost three "mighty men of valour" in the fire toss and then witnessed a miracle of selective burn. For though SM&A had been thrown in "bound in their coats, their trousers etc." now they were "loose, walking in the midst of the fire..." And a holy creature was with them so startlingly different in His appearance, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Him as the "Son of God."

As I read this story and look for parallels in our own lives, I can't help but think how, in many ways, that golden image is for us, the church of the 21st century, a good public opinion.

For years Christianity has been the worldview of the majority of  Canadians and we in the church were in sync with our culture. That's no longer the case. Our culture has changed to the degree of accepting, indeed promoting, many things that, if we insist on living by the Bible, we must reject. For example:
- The world "created" without God (through evolution).
- All religions leading to God.
- Homosexuality as normal, right, and good.
- Abortion.

Society has a fiery furnace too. Its threats if we don't bow to their current norms include fines and jail time, taking away the church's tax-free and charitable donation status, and maligning us in the media.

What is our response?
  • Have we thought it through beforehand like SM&A had so that when society's minions insist on compliance we can reply "Your threat means nothing to us" (Msg)?
  • Are we as faith-filled as these three young men were when they said: "Our God.... is able to deliver us"
  • Could we see ourselves adding something like, "Whether God delivers us or not, let it be known to you, O society (of Canada, the US, Europe, China, India, Africa...) we do not serve your gods nor will we capitulate to the standards you have set up"?

PRAYER: Dear God, I read this story and feel convicted. Help me to have the resolve to worship only You that these men had. May I exhibit their reckless abandonment to Your care as I seek to uphold Your standards and live in ways that please You. Amen.

MORE: A church that bows

The United Church of Canada has been in the vanguard of Canadian churches that have synchronized their beliefs and practices to fit with the changing mores of society. A recent article in the National Post profiles their denomination (not glossing over their current dwindling and confused state). Read "The Split in the United Church."

Bible Drive-Thru

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