Summary: A message on how believers can live victorious Christian lives in a hostile a culture.
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas
The Text Summary: God’s people are to know, proclaim, and live His commandments, despite threats and pressures by the culture to do otherwise, all the while trusting the Lord to save them.
The Text Outline:
I. The King’s Evil Decree (vv. 1-7).
A. The project (v. 1): Nebuchadnezzar builds a gold statue 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide.
B. The politicians (vv. 2-3): Nebuchadnezzar summons all his political leaders to attend the statue’s dedication.
C. The proclamation (vv. 4-5): When the music sounded, everyone present was to bow down and worship the statue.
D. The penalty (vv. 6-7): Those refusing to bow down were to be cast into a fiery furnace.
II. The Three Men’s Faithful Response (vv. 8-23).
A. They wouldn’t bow (vv. 8-12).
B. They wouldn’t bend (vv. 13-18).
C. They were bound and cast into the fire (vv. 19-23).
III. The Lord’s Miraculous Deliverance (vv. 24-25).
A. The three men were joined by a fourth.
B. The three men wouldn’t burn.
One of the more frequent themes of our Lord’s parables and teaching during His earthly ministry was the tremendous cost of following Him as a disciple. Jesus was not esoteric or obscure about this; He said plainly and often that one must consider carefully the sacrifice demanded of those following Him because, as He said in John chapter 15,
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, “The servant is not greater than his lord.” If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
Now there are greater and lesser degrees of persecution that result from following Jesus as a Christian, depending upon where God has placed you. In many Muslim countries being a believer in Christ makes one liable for prison, torture, or even death. In a socialist society being a disciple may mean the confiscation of goods, a work camp, re-education, or an inability to get decent housing, a well-paying job, or entrance to a university. In the Untied States there is no state-sponsored persecution for followers of Christ, but if one is living the life of a radical, daily, sold-out disciple, there will be a price to pay: marginalization at the office, the misunderstanding of family members, even perhaps the abandonment of old, dear friends.
Being persuaded then of the reality of the difficulties and opposition we will encounter as disciples of Jesus Christ, how are we to respond? And how are we to live as soldier-saints behind cultural enemy lines, with integrity, pleasing our Lord? Simply, we are to live with conviction, courage, fortitude, and faith.
The model for how we are to live as Christians in this world is portrayed beautifully for us in the incident relayed in Daniel chapter 3: The confrontation between the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and the three Jewish exiles Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.