Summary: A look at Daniel chapter 3 where we learn that we musn’t compromise on worship and see that this is not just about facing death, but overcoming day to day niggles and annoyances.
This morning I’d like to introduce you to a book, for those of you that know me you may be surprised to learn that this book is not by J K Rowling or Tolkein. In fact its not even a science fiction book. It’s a little book called “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.” And it’s just a manual, written in quite a factual tone, based on interviews with experts in a variety of fields. It has reached number one best-selling status as a non-fiction paperback book.
Here’s the back cover where it lists some of the sections. How to fend off a shark, how to take a punch, how to deliver a baby in a taxicab, how to survive a poisonous snake attack, how to jump from a moving car, how to identify a bomb, how to escape from Killer Bees, How to survive if your parachute fails to open and dozens of other dire situations. There’s even a whole chapter on how to perform an emergency tracheotomy on one of your friends if you should need to do that. All you need is a razor blade or very sharp knife and a ballpoint pen with the ink removed from it. For those of you who watch the TV series 24, then this should be the ideal book for Kim Bauer. In fact there ones section she should have read up on.
And I’m going to see how well you would do and test you on it this morning. What should you do if confronted by an angry mountain lion?
2, play dead;
3, hold your coat open like a cape;
4, sing a gentle, happy song.
OK, shall we have a show of hands, how thinks its 1, 2, 3, 4. Believe it or not, the correct answer according to the “Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook” is 3—the idea is that by holding your coat open your make yourself look bigger and have more chance of intimidating the lion or at least looking to big to swallow.
This is what the authors say, “The principle behind this book is a simple one. You just never know. You never really know what life will throw at you, what is sitting around the corner. You never really know when you might be called upon to choose life or death with your actions. But when you are called, you need to know what to do. That’s why this book is written.” That’s what they write.
This morning, we’re going to study together another kind of worst case scenario, and see how real-life people, ordinary people like you and me responded, because you never know what curves life will throw at you, when you’ll be called to choose life or death. But when you are called--and you will be called--you need to know what to do. That’s why this Book was written.
So the situation. What should you do if the King commands you to worship his statue or die? Play along but cross your fingers behind your back, Go through the forms but don’t mean it, Don’t but try to remain inconspicuous, Defy the King. Well it will come as no surprise to you, unless of course you were sleeping during the Bible reading that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego choose the last option. From the story it sounds like they tried to do number 3 to start with but there’s always one who likes to tell tales especially, when they don’t like you and so somebody told the King.
When you look at it from hindsight, sitting in our comfortable church with no-one coming to arrest us for being a Christian and knowing how the story turns out it’s very easy to say the obvious answer is number 4. But to someone under persecution, facing the death penalty, then the numbers 1 and 2 begin to look attractive. After all, true worship is in Spirit and not a matter of form. What does it matter if for appearance’s sake we bow the knee to a statue, we know there is only one God and that we are not really worshiping the statue, what does it matter if we do a little bowing to keep in with the crowd. Who would it really hurt if we go through the forms but don’t really mean it in our hearts. After all in this situation the decree is not stopping us being a Jew or worship God, we just have to bow to a statue every so often.
People are willing to make these sorts of compromises. The incident that immediately sprang to my mind was the Scottish parliament. I don’t know if there was a similar incident at the Welsh assembly, but at the swearing in of MSP’s they have to swear their allegiance to the queen. However, several of the MSP’s, including Tommy Sheridan, shown here are staunch republicans who believe that their allegiance is to the Scottish people and not the queen. They therefore object strongly to swearing allegiance to the queen. However, since they have to swear to sit in parliament, they all swore although some made protests before and after. Tommy Sheridan even said it was hypocritical. But they had to do it to sit in parliament, so they swore an oath they did not believe in or want to keep, because they had to.