June 28, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
The popular story of the “Fiery Furnace” in Daniel 3:1-30 models three truths about taking a stand for our Christian faith:
I. There is a time to take a stand.
A. First we need to acknowledge that there always is a back-story leading up to a stand for God. In the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the back-story was standing up to ethnic jealousy, as well as standing up for God. Gracia and Martin Burnam, missionaries from the Philippines, took a stand for Jesus, but they were kidnapped because they were Americans, not Christians. Back-stories can complicate our decision whether or not to take a stand.
B. We must puzzle through our faith to see what the situation really calls for. Daniel and his friends simply negotiated in Daniel 1 over the issue of eating the King’s meat; in Daniel 2, however, the issue was idolatry and they took a stronger (though still respectful) stand and refused to bow down. In puzzling through our faith, we must ask questions, such as: “Is the issue important enough?”, “Is it the right time?”, “Is it an issue primarily of culture, or faith?”.
C. We must recognize that as Christians, there is a stand to be taken. Daniel and his friends obediently came to the dedication of the golden image, but there they took a stand: “…we will not worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18)
Every one of us as Christians will face times in our lives when God calls us to take a stand for Him, rather than for other people. This is the nature of our broken world. Taking stands is a part of the normal experience of the followers of Jesus Christ. If we are not facing such moments, then we are not different enough for the world we are in.
II. God may or may not give us a short-term rescue.
Daniel’s three friends were actually thrown into the burning furnace. Only then did the King see them walking around with the “son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25), and then they were rescued completely. Only the ropes that bound them were burned! We serve the same God who makes such miraculous rescues.
Sometimes God helps us to avoid suffering as the consequence of taking a stand, but other times we will go through the pain. Sometimes we experience short-term rescues in the midst of difficult circumstances, but other times we cling to our ultimate, long term hope of resurrection through Jesus Christ. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego recognized this possibility as they proclaimed “…he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods.” (Daniel 3:16-18) Whether God rescues us short-term or not, God is still God; Truth is still Truth.
III. Whether He rescues us or not, God is with us when we take a stand for Him.
We always receive more of God’s presence when we do not play it safe. When we leave our comfort zone, God shows up! Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace with Jesus, the “son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25), God gives us His presence when we take our stand so that we can do what He has called us to do.
God, show us the moments when we need to take a stand for you, and may we be open to the promise of your grace and presence when we do.