Three friends of mine, whom I’ve mentioned in the past, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, found themselves facing quite a predicament one afternoon. They faced a situation where they could do what God had said to do, or they could do what man had said to do. But they couldn’t do both.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God had commanded them to have no other gods before Him. They knew they could not bow down to idols or graven images. They knew the word of the Lord (Exodus 20:1-6).
Unfortunately for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded that they do exactly what the word of the Lord told them not to do (Daniel 3:4-6). And the King’s commandment carried quite a heavy weight along with it. Anyone who violated the commandment would be thrown into a burning firey furnace.
And thus their predicament. If they did what King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded they do, they would end up violating what God had commanded they do. And if they did what God had commanded they do, they would end up violating what King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded they do. But they couldn’t do both. They had to please one and risk angering the other. They had to make a difficult choice.
Interestingly enough, I believe every person in the world today faces the exact same choice as my three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We all have an impossible choice to make. We may either bow down and serve the images of the world, or we may serve God. But we can’t do both. We must choose one or the other.
And our choices have consequences attached to them. Dire ones. Severe ones. Serious ones. Literally as scary and fatal as being thrown into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. We are talking life threatening endangerment here accompanied with violent pain and torture.
If we examine our choices in light of our three base world views, we begin to unravel what drives us within our lives.
The Atheist has no problem whatsoever bowing down to the King’s idol. It is a mode of self-preservation. Which is disingenuous in and of itself. Because if you are Atheistic in your world view you have no belief in any God. So why would you be inventing one and serving one? The Atheist has no reason to be motivated by their own self-preservation to the extent of violating their own personal beliefs, they simply set their World View aside and in the interest of continuing their life journey, they bow down.
The Agnostic is completely indifferent to bowing down to the King’s idol. The Agnostic most likely wants to hedge their bets. But in situations like this, they cannot. The Agnostic lives in real confusion at times. They would like to please both God and man, just in case one or the other happens to come true and they find themselves facing consequences they cannot deal with. Unfortunately for the Agnostic, there are some questions in life that require a real choice and a single action. You must choose one or the other. You cannot choose both, and you will face consequences for your actions whether you want to or not. In most cases the Agnostic will join their Atheist friends and bow down to the golden image and worship it in the interest of self-preservation.
For the Theist however, the choice becomes a lot more granular. Unlike their Atheist and Agnostic neighbors, the Theist actually believes both choices to be solid and real. The commandments of their God are true and define the core of their beliefs. The Theist really must stand on the principles of their world view if they are to be true to themselves, and that means they must accept the consequences of violating the commandments of the King.
The Theist, especially Christians, have an out though, right? After all, the Theist serves a God that can deliver them for any consequences of man. And yet, 99.999% of all the people in the world today choose to bow down to the King’s idols. Why? It makes sense with the Atheists and the Agnostics, but why do the Theists, for the most part, give in and bow down? Especially when they supposedly believe that their God can save them?
My friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the very small minority in their answer to the King. Here is what they said:
“16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 KJV
Most Christians familiar with the story of my three friends shout triumphantly and proclaim victory through God’s hands. Yet the evidence remains, that the majority of people bow down and worship the idols. Why is that? Why do Theist Christians so adamantly believe that God can save them yet they go ahead and bow down?
I believe it is because the vast majority of us do not live beyond the BUT. Do you see it there? The BUT at the beginning of verse 18. You see, it is very easy to proclaim that God has the power to save, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to go beyond that. They were willing to say BUT “if not“. If God chooses NOT to save us, then we still will not bow down. Because God is still God.
Here is the bottom line: you cannot truly be free until you are willing to live beyond the BUT. It is easy to stand and proclaim that God has the power to save, but it is hard to say I trust him even when he chooses not to rescue me from the burning firey furnace.
And God cannot work in your life until you are ready to put your complete trust in Him. Until you are ready to say to Him “God, I trust you to save me. But even if You choose not to, I still trust and worship You, and You alone.”
I told someone recently that when I stand before the judgement seat of the Holy God, my only plea is the Blood of the Lamb. I’ve put my complete faith and trust in Him and I know He has the power to save. BUT if Jesus looks at me in that day and says “I’ve changed my mind and you are not to be saved.” Then know this: as I am on my way to the gates of Hell, I will be singing “Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him. For He is Just. He is Holy. He is Righteous. And He has given me what I deserve!”
And I know this to be true because when you live on the other side of the BUT … you live a life that accepts whatever decision God makes for you. Whether it be to save you from the burning firey furnace, or whether He chooses not to. Either way, He still is God and I will bow down to no other.
What about you? Are you ready to live on the other side of the BUT and to serve Him, to worship Him, to Praise God no matter what decision He may make for your life?