'Motorcycle Reverend' JOHN SMITH reminds us that the Bible calls us to worship only one God... Whatever the cost
I believe that the books of Daniel and Revelation have essentially the same theme - "Jesus is Lord over everything". To the believer, then, Jesus is Lord over our economics, our politics, our attitudes; our willingness to help other people, our aspirations, our morality and our time - our everything.
In the book of Daniel, we have the story of some young men who have been captured and taken away from the comfort of their religious background and their nation, and have been carried off by a foreign power called Babylon. They had to live out their lives in the midst of a world where other lords were in charge. And instead of them being negative; instead of them turning in on themselves, these young men equipped themselves very, very well in the midst of such a captivity.
In verse three of Chapter One we read, that the King (Nebuchadnezzar) ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility - young men who were full of wisdom, knowledge and aptitude; teachable young men willing to discipline themselves - to serve in the King's palace. He was to teach them the language and the literature of the Babylonians. And they were to be given, daily, top food at the King's table.
So these boys were being prepared by God to be able to relevantly minister in the midst of a culture that was foreign to everything they held dear. They weren't able to live in a lovely comfortable Christian culture where the radio and the television were all going to express the things they wanted to hear. Here they were in a hostile environment and God was preparing them to be a voice in the midst of that hostile environment. I love this story. Because it's what we face now.
Christians are in a foreign world; where the values and the ideas have got nothing to do with what we hold precious. We are like a bunch of Jews that have been carried off to a hedonistic Babylon.
One of the guys was Daniel. And he had three mates -- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Verse eight tells us that "Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food."
I don't quite understand why, but these guys felt that somehow or other God said to them, "Don't feast with the King." That's noticeably different from a lot of theology we're hearing today about the King's Kids where we have a right to the very best.
Daniel and his mates thought that God was saying, "Instead of falling in line with the fantastic food of the king, have a simple diet and everyone is going to see that you guys don't have to be pampered to be able to be healthy".
Scott Peck, the great psychotherapist, says that one of the sicknesses of the younger generation and of our society in general, is that they are not willing to put aside immediate pleasure for the sake of long-term gain. That's the mark of neurosis. You've got to have it now, you've got to be enjoying yourself; and if you're not enjoying yourself, something is going wrong.
You don't believe that, most of you. And you know why most of us don't believe that? Because we don't live it. And if it's costly down here, we're not prepared to make the cost, because we really think that somehow on the other side we're going to miss out. But let us join with each other and say, 'Lord, what is it you would have us do? Then let's get on with doing it!'
Now Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold 90 feet high, and he told everybody from the judges to the magistrates to provincial officials to come and worship this big image which was really meant to make him look good.
The Westerner's 90-foot-high gigantic idolatry is "the self". Even a popular magazine is called "Self". Every month you can buy "Self magazines to find out a thousand ways to spend the time you could spend worshipping God, loving your neighbour, doing something about homeless kids and unemployed people - looking at yourself by the hour, spending your money on yourself and talking about yourself.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to the idol. And they were told, 'If you don't bow to this idol you will be killed.'
They said, "We believe our God is able to save us from this fiery furnace." I n other words, if you really want to lay it on the line, you can keep your ideologies and materialism and selfishness; we don't believe it makes it. We believe to follow God is a much better way anyway, so we don't care what you say about that. We're not going to pay any piper except The Piper. We believe our God can rescue us.
Then they make a final statement. And this is the key. They say "But if he doesn't rescue us, O King, we still will not worship the idol."
As Christians, we all know the story ends with the three men being miraculously saved from within the fiery furnace. But the point was that they were prepared to be totally committed and be utterly loyal to God and that which is right -- even if it meant their death.
Let each of us worship only at the feet of Jesus, and be liberated by Him to count the cost and serve and love Him, each other and the hurting world.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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