“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 your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
As we gradually draw closer to Holy Week, our readings especially our Gospel passages chronicle the hostile exchanges between Jesus and the Jews. It is no longer a secret that they were plotting to kill Jesus. Why were they determined to eliminate Jesus? It was the same reason why King Nebuchadnezzar was determined to eliminate Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Our world doesn’t like good people or rather, our world does not like people who stand out from the crowd.
Jesus said to his persecutors: “If God were your Father, you would love me.” (John 8:42). Put simply, the world hates us because we are children of God and we do not belong to the world. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego incurred the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar because they would not serve his idols and his golden image.
Jesus said: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples … (but) … everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:31&34). Just as Nebuchadnezzar succeeded in making the people worship the idols out of fear of losing their lives, many today are “worshipping” all kinds of idols just to make ends meet. They have become slaves to sin because they think they have no other means of putting food on the table.
For instance, some Christians are into prostitution which is the exchange of sex for money, favours, or gifts whether or not they admit it. Some Christians tell lies in their business place, they steal by cheating, changing figures, tampering with scales/meters, reducing the quality of products, etc. Some even go into ritual killings, kidnapping, consulting witch doctors, etc, (the list is endless).
Until you are ready to die rather than sin, your faith is not yet mature. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego displayed mature faith in God. They said, “even if God decides not to save us, we would rather burn in the fire than worship your gods.” Most Christians today have been indoctrinated by the prosperity gospel. As such, not many Christians can take the stand of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Not many of us can say that even if God does not answer our prayers, we would never get into any shady deals just to put food on the table.
The truth is that sometimes, God shows up as the fourth man in the fire but as we saw in the case of Jesus, it may be the will of God that we should suffer. Even if we have to suffer, let us be assured that heaven waits for us. There is a better life ahead. Do not fear those who can only kill the body, fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. We gain nothing if we sell our souls to the devil out of fear. Even as difficult as things are, there are still countless legitimate avenues for making ends meet. Trust God to provide.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, let not my love for life enslave me to sin. Amen.
Bible Study: Daniel 3:14-20,24-25,28, Daniel 3:52-56, John 8:31-42).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu