Lesson 6 -- fourth quarter 1997
October 12, 1997
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications
"I'm told you men do not serve my gods, and that you have refused to bow before the golden image out there on the plain. Is this really true? You have been among my most loyal, reliable advisors!"
"Look here, Nebuchadnezzar. Have you forgotten just who we are? We are Hebrews, servants of the Most High God! If you want to be inflated enough to expect people to bow to your image and worship you, that's your business. If the people don't want to stop to think enough to realize that's just a pile of metal and stone out there, that's their business. But we have heads on our shoulders and brains in our heads...and we go to the bother of using them. Of course we won't bow to your silly statue! You may be king, but you are also wrong!"
And so would have they been! If these men had chosen to respond this way, they would have been correct in their facts but totally erroneous in their attitudes. Furthermore, I don't believe they would have had the Lord's company or protection in the fiery furnace.
Occasionally I get the impression that some of us figure that standing for the truth qualifies as the most important thing there is to do. And I would not deny the extreme importance of this. However, our attitude, demeanor and disposition is also highly valuable. I wonder sometimes whether standing for the truth with arrogance, rebellion or mockery isn't in reality standing for ourselves. Keep this in mind as you listen to discussions and debates on hot issues like origins, politics, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, materialism and church standards. Perhaps in your circles the issues are different, but that doesn't matter. Listen to the spirits of the speakers. And learn.
Have you ever wondered if you would have passed the test these men faced? Have you ever worried that if persecution came to this country, you might not be able to withstand? If you have, I'd say you are quite normal. I think everyone must at some point worry about not being up to some sort of test or trial. However, I would like to challenge you to be different from most. Don't just wonder if you would pass, but prepare for the test so that you will pass! How? Just like these men did.
I don't believe that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego spent days trying to anticipate all the possible tests they could face in a heathen country. Nor do I think they drilled and quizzed each other, brainstorming for the right answers and attitudes to their imaginings. I even doubt that they asked God for advance notice of the timing and content of upcoming tests. But I do believe they prepared.
They prepared by being faithful every day. They prepared by being obedient to God and respectful to their other authorities every day on all occasions. They prepared by maintaining daily communion with God.
I do not know of a proper time for the Christian to be arrogant and disrespectful. And the apparent magnitude of the circumstance changes nothing. Whether I'm responding to my parents or teacher in a private setting or whether I'm on trial for my faith before a global TV audience, I must always conduct myself with meekness and respect. The "amazing" thing is, God judges me equally in every situation, because it is I that He judges, not the situation! Another "amazing" thing is that the everyday patterns I establish and tolerate will carry through to the special occasions. So I better be faithful all the time!
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