How has your faith been tested? Here are four I am aware of. First, an employer asks one of his top department leaders (who is a follower of Jesus) to have an affair with him and he’ll guarantee advancement; Second, a manager was ordered by her supervisor to stop inviting other workers to her lunch time Bible study; Third, Wellesley College (MA) refused to allow our Chi Alpha group to bring a woman speaker to campus to talk about how she changed from practicing a lesbian lifestyle; Fourth, an engineer was refused a promotion and reprimanded when he turned down a bribe from a supervisor and then told company officials he “objected to using substandard materials in a product” because it violated the values by which he governed his life.
Read Daniel 3:19-23.
The King of Babylon made a ninety-foot statue of himself and demanded everyone in his empire bow down and worship him. Yet three Jewish young men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood upright and refused to bow down to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar.
In spite of the high regard the King had for his 3 employees, he determined to show his authority by ordering their immediate execution. This would serve as a lesson to anyone else who might consider rebelling against his authority. Did you notice any chance for appeal?
In a fit of anger, Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace heated 7 times hotter than usual. A low fire would have increased their torture by extending their punishment. A hotter fire would kill them instantly. Kind of cruel, isn’t it? Why do you think the king had some of his strongest soldiers tie up the guys? Added persecution? To tie the ropes tighter and make it hurt more?
The furnace was probably constructed with an opening in the top, through which fuel could be poured, and an opening in the lower side, from which ashes could be removed. Soldiers threw or lowered the 3 into the blazing furnace. It was customary to remove the clothing of those being executed (?), but the king wanted his command carried out NOW. The flames were so hot that they killed the soldiers who took the 3 men up to die, and they simply fell into the furnace.
Where are you facing the greatest pressure? Time demands? Living on your own and deciding what kind of person you’ll be? A moral or ethical choice on campus where there’s an endless source of pleasure? Practicing your faith in Jesus? Paying your bills? A tough employer to deal with? Conflict in your marriage or family?
God often demands great sacrifices from his people (Abraham and his son); He often leads people in difficult ways (Israel in the desert); He proposes hard tasks (Jesus told the disciples to feed 5000); and God permits people to suffer (Paul and Silas thrown in jail and beaten).
Christians are often afraid to speak up about their faith on campus because they know they will almost certainly be laughed at, mocked, or marginalized in class. Christians in the marketplace are often fearful to speak out about their faith because they know their careers could be damaged, and they could even lose their jobs. By the way, if God chose NOT to deliver you from a blazing furnace, would you still honor and obey Him?
Walk wisely. How much are you willing to risk in order to obey a clear command of God?
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz