When God asks us to do the costly.
Read Daniel 3
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-nego were given a choice, either worship the gold image of the king, thus acknowledging his supremacy and divine position, or face the terrifying death of being burned alive. Not only did they face the pressure of death, but they faced peer pressure as well. Throughout their experience of being in the service to the King’s court they had faced the pressure of remaining steadfast to their commitment to the Biblical law. While everyone else around them compromised to accommodate themselves to the cultural pressure, these three young men (along with Daniel) remained steadfast in their obedience. When it was just standing firm in their dietary regulations, there was no real cost. Even their pagan masters acknowledged that their dietary practices had positive results. But now things turned much darker, more difficult, and far more costly. No longer was it just dietary customs, the command to worship the king struck at the heart of their faith and worship of God. The failure to obey now carried a death sentence, yet they remain unwavering in their commitment. While all their friends, relatives, and fellow Jews bowed down, they stood (literally) firm. They were not swayed by the power of others, or by peer pressure. Even when Nebuchadnezzar “graciously” gave them a second chance to conform, they refused. In words of defiance, they boldly proclaimed that they would rather die than worship any golden image. What is especially striking is that they did not waver even when marched to the furnace. At first glance it seems as if their faith in God’s deliverance was misplaced. Heaven remained silent as they stoked the fires so that the heat was seven times more than usual (vs 19). It was only after they were thrown into the flames that God acted on their behalf and delivered them supernaturally from a certain death.
We know the story well, for it is one we learned as children in Sunday School. But in an age of moral and spiritual compromise we have forgotten its lesson. Today, right and wrong is no longer determined by Biblical truth, but by what makes us happy and satisfies our inward desires. If our obedience proves to be difficult and costly then we justify our disobedience. We conform the scriptures to popular culture and question anything that might cause us discomfort. But obedience is not always easy and following Christ proves to be costly. Christ makes it clear that to be a follower of him we must be willing to pay the cost (Luke 14:27-28). Christ does not promise us a life of ease. Instead, he promises the very opposite. Living out our faith in daily life is not for the faint of heart for God interrupts our life, and those interruptions can become sacrificial. We must forfeit our time, our energy, our comfort, and even our reputation. But the greatest cost is the cost of self-denial. Paul understood the personal cost of following Christ when he stated that he had to “discipline his body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27). In other words, we must deny our natural desires driven by sin in order to pursue God’s desire to make us holy and righteous. The Christian life is never easy, but it is always rewarding. There is a cost to following Christ, but in the end the cost is always worth it. What we gain is far greater, for what we gain is the riches of heaven.