We all know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. How they would not bow down to the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had built for all to worship. I’m wondering if the Apostle Peter had them in mind when he wrote part of 1 Peter 3…
15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15&16 [CSB])
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not confrontational, but with gentleness and confidence defended our faith and were ready to die for it and many have died for the sake of the gospel over the millennia. In the 1 Peter 3 context it’s not death his readers were facing, but punishment and perhaps prison. For us it would be discrimination and ridicule. A far cry from burning alive in a fiery furnace. How do you give an answer for the hope of the gospel you have? It does beg another question doesn’t it? The Apostle Peter is assuming we know enough of the gospel to be able to share it when the opportunity comes our way. How are you at being able to share the hope you have? Can you share the hope of the gospel with others when asked? Today may be a good one to start learning.
Holy Father when the time comes please give us boldness with gentleness to be able to share the gospel with those that ask. We pray for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who when doing so will face prison or even death. Help us to think of them when the opportunity comes for us to share. We love you Lord.
Daniel 3:16-18, 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (ESV)
So here we have three young men who are more committed to God than their own lives. They understand the gravity of their situation and they know God is able to deliver them from the fiery furnace. Yet, He may not. He may use this experience as the time to take them home to heaven. But for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego they know what they must do. Their duty is to follow and obey God no matter what the cost even if it means their lives. In the west we live in a little sliver of time where we can practice our Christian faith without the fear of physical harm. Just last year 41 of our brothers and sisters (fathers, mothers, husbands and wives) in a South East Asian country were imprisoned with sentences of five years each for sharing their faith with others. In another country four years ago a Bible translator in another Asian country was shot 31 times. The government authorities ruled it an accident. Not only did these three men follow God no matter what, but people around the world today are giving their lives for the sake of the gospel. As one person has stated, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
This is not something I like to think about. I have enough of a challenge following God with the pressures of relationships in every day life. What would I do if my life were at stake. I would hope to be as faithful as these three young men were. That even if my life was given to advance the kingdom of God I would say, “Let it be known that if I am not delivered from this immediate situation, I am still following the God of the universe.” In fact, the pressures I face in standing for God now, may be the testing ground used for when my life is at stake. If I am willing to compromise now, how could I stand when my is life at stake?
Father God, strengthen my resolve to stand for you daily. I pray for my brothers and sisters around the world who are imprisoned right now for you, or are being tortured for you or are dying for you. The least I can do is stand where you have placed me and give an account for the relationship I have with you. May I follow the examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Paul Carlson, Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, and Maximilian Kolbe! I pray these things in the strong name of Jesus, Amen.