Summary: This sermon is about being willing to risk the fiery furnace for the beliefs we hold in Jesus Christ!
One of my favorite places to worship is in the Mountain, on a ski trip of course! (If you don't know me, I love snow skiing). Most Ski areas have a little spot marking a chapel. Though I have never actually worshipped at one of those spots, mostly because I am not usually skiing on Sunday's. Though in the mountains, I find a sense of true worship just being in the outdoors and thanking the Creator God for the gift of the mountains and snowflakes that are of endless design. On one ski trip, I remember before we boarded the bus near Albuquerque to head into Colorado, one youth lead a devotional that challenged the other kids to look around; to get outside their daily problems; and school; and peer pressure and to see the beauty of creation; and then to take time to thank God for all that He had Created.
We gather here on Sunday mornings, taking for granted really, our freedom to worship and the fact that Sunday after Sunday here the church stands waiting for us to arrive. We aren’t held captive in Babylon and forced to bow to graven images that idolize the thoughts of King Nebuchadnezzar. Soon, as early as next Sunday, we will be temporarily worshipping in Weston Hall, a gym. Worshipping in a gym will be different for us. Noise levels and comfort levels will all be different.
And my first thought is that if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego can worship in a fiery furnace, then we can worship in a gym for nine months (more or less). When I was in the war during Desert Storm, I worshipped in an ammo bunker; I observed someone baptized from a canteen of water; I worshipped in a warehouse and in the middle of a sandstorm. But I’ve never had to worship in a fiery furnace!
King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to rule as a tyrant, and forced people to give up their own freedoms of worship in order to worship their graven images or face death in the fiery furnace. Whenever you here the musical sound, bow down and worship this golden image. Yet, the friends of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to worship. King Nebe called them in and gave them a choice; gave them a chance to worship him and the golden image; and they said “We have no need to present a defense… if God wants He will deliver us out of the furnace, and out of your hand…” (2:16-17).
And they were delivered. But here is the real question. “Would you risk the fiery furnace?” I’m not talking about risking your salvation for the fires of hell, but risking standing up for your faith, even though you know the world is going to punish you?
Pastor David DeWitt (a Wesleyan pastor) notes: (1) “We need to understand that a hurting world is watching us especially through the tough times in life. It is when life gets rough that we need to stand for Jesus the most. It is in the hard times that our faith reveals it’s true worth. If you won’t stand up for Jesus who will?” (www.sermoncentral.com “Strength to Stand”)
This Bible story is a frightening story in which believers are confronted with the idolatry of the world, and told if you don’t join the world, then you will risk the fiery furnace! Are you willing to risk the fiery furnace to stand up for your faith!
We might ask ourselves, to what idols do we bow down today? Money, fame, power, other men and false gods (idols); sex; drugs; (the list can go on). When people at the top of these Wall Street companies get greedy, why doesn’t someone from Main Street faith stand up to them. When our worlds values clamors “anything goes”, why won’t we Christians shout “no way”.
In a Google experiment of the names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego I came across the interesting lyrics to a Beastie Boys song called “Shadrach”. Listen to the 1st verse:
“Riddle me this brother can you handle it
Your style to my style you can't hold a candle to it
Equinox symmetry and the balance is right
Smokin' and drinkin' on a Tuesday night
It's not how you play the game it's how you win it
I cheat and steal and sin and I'm a cynic
For those about to rock we salute you
The dirty thoughts for dirty minds we contribute to
I once was lost but now I'm found
The music washes over and you're one with the sound
Who shall inherit the earth the meek shall
I think I'm starting to peak now Al
And then the man upstairs well I hope that he cares
If I had a penny for my thoughts I'd be a millionaire