There once was this powerful king who lived in a land called Babylon. He had a lot of power and had taken over many kingdoms in his day so he thought of himself as a pretty unstoppable, amazing guy. One day the king commanded that all people of every nation bow down before a gold image of himself or else they would be thrown into the furnace…
That’s a word that makes even the bravest of men stop in their tracks. Why? Because we’re comfortable, happy, ‘living the life’, you name it. We’ve gotten to a place where we value life on this earth more than the eternity that is awaiting us with the One who is greater than it all.
There is a spiritual battle going on in this world right now over this very concept. This idea of being comfortable or not stepping on anyone’s toes is a prevalent conversation that we all hear. The biggest one I hear? “People are entitled to be whoever and whatever they want to be.”
Wow. Think about that for a second. To be entitled is to believe oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. To be whoever or whatever means there is no limit on what you “choose” to become.
King Nebuchadnezzar (yes, that’s the king above in case you didn’t catch that) thought of himself as a god. His advisors, counselors and magicians told him that he was a god and everyone should bow down to him. So he created this golden image of himself and declared that everyone should bow down and worship it because he was deserving of their praise.
There’s only one God who is deserving of our praise. Yet, we live in a time where everyone sees themselves as their own god. “You have no right to tell me what to do with my body,” “Don’t tell me I’m wrong, I make up my own right,” “I’m not going to listen to your negativity because it doesn’t make me feel good.”
Now let me tell you the rest of the story.
Every person in that land bowed down to the golden image, except three men. These men were foreigners and they were actually over the affairs in the province (so they had some authority). When the king called for them he said this,
“Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
I get nervous when I know someone is going to get mad at me for what I believe…these men where threatened by death. I’ll continue…
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (you guessed it!) replied to him,
“King 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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
From here, the king has his guards heat the furnace seven times hotter than normal (a man died just from opening the furnace to throw them in). They were thrown into the fire and the next thing Nebuchadnezzar saw amazed him. Because there were four men standing in the fire completely unharmed and unbound.
We are called to stand in the fire. That is what life is meant to be. A life marked by the One who gave it all for us. We cannot keep bowing down to a society who finds glory in themselves. We are to love them deeply and to serve them as Christ would, but stand back to the place where we are no longer speaking out about what He has called us all to be? No.
It is going to be uncomfortable, difficult, and extremely scary at times. But “worth it” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Our earthly possessions were not meant to be the source of our comfort. Our friends were not meant to be our posts to lean on for protection. Our reputation was not meant to be valued higher than Christ.
I am not a god. You are not a god. Jesus Christ is the only God, and he is our source of comfort, protection and value.
It’s time to stand in that fire.
“Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” 1 Peter 2:11-12 (MSG)