Don't bow the knee to the world's ideologies

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

This past Sunday, I began a new sermon series entitled “Justice,” looking at what the Bible has to say about justice, a subject that is a big focus in today’s culture. The deeper you dive into today’s literature on justice, the more you find that there are some glaring discrepancies between the Bible’s conception of justice and our culture’s conception of justice. And increasingly, schools and corporations are bending their knee to the culture’s conception of justice, while those who disagree are singled out for shame or punishment.

In the light of this reality, I find strength and encouragement in the book of Daniel, which we are currently reading in this year’s trip through the Bible. In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, sets up a golden statue and requires everyone to bow down and worship to it. If anyone refuses, they will be thrown into the furnace. Three of the Jewish exiles in Babylon, named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to bow down to the idol, and as a result, a mob has them brought before the king. When the king questions them, they respond with these courageous words:

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

I love not only the courage but the balance in their declaration. On the one hand, they exhibit a confident faith in God’s ability to save them from even the most certain death. But on the other hand, they are clear that they will continue to worship and serve God even if He chooses not to save them. One thing is clear: they will never bow down to an idol.

Our leaders may not erect golden statues these days, but idols still exist, and cultural leaders and mobs still demand allegiance to ideologies of the world. And God is still looking for men and women who will be courageous enough to refuse to bow the knee, men and women whose allegiance is to God regardless of whether their devotion ends in deliverance or death.

Lord, encourage us by the power of your Holy Spirit to live devoted to you, to refuse to bend the knee to the ideologies of this world that have set themselves up in opposition to you. Help us to do justice, love mercy, and walk faithfully with you, with our eyes fixed upon you, so that we might not waver in our discipleship, even when the mob and the leaders of this world put us through the proverbial fire. Amen.

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