I’ll just come out and admit it. I’m afraid. Christians lost the culture wars a long time ago, but ever since Obergefell I’ve felt that the final tsunami is coming. So yes, I’m afraid. But I’m also reminded that God’s people have faced far worse. In particular, I remember the three young men who faced not a tsunami, but a furnace:
I’m sure you know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Three men in exile who had become rulers in Nebuchadnezzar’s corrupt kingdom. They lived in a culture much more hostile than ours, and for a time they thrived, passing blissfully under Nebuchadnezzar’s radar. But one day, everything changed.
Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed about a statue made of many different metals. Daniel had told him that each metal represented a different kingdom, and that the final kingdom would fail because it would be divided against itself. So Nebuchadnezzar wanted to change the future. Much like his tower-building ancestors in Babel he wanted to unite the world against God by bringing them under one idolatrous religion. So he built an idol of gold, and demanded that everyone bow down to it or be burned alive.
They didn’t bomb the idol workshops . . . or retreat into the mountains. They simply stood still.
Like us, Shadrach and his friends faced a dilemma. Should they stand and die or bow and be condemned? Their king told them, “Bow down to this idol or die!” But God had said, “Bow down to idols and die!” What were they to do? Death waited for them on either side.
Of course they made the only sensible choice.
Shadrach’s (et al.) Lesson
There they stood. An idol in front of them, a smoking furnace beside them, and all the world falling on their faces around them. The image is full of modern analogies. They must have really stood out. Everyone else was lying on their face in the dirt while they remained on their feet. It was easy to spot the dissenters.
And yet they stayed standing tall. All the way to the flames.
In the days leading up to that fiery encounter—and they must have know it was coming—they never showed fear. They didn’t bomb the idol workshops, prophesy destruction from the street corners, or retreat into the mountains. They simply stood still. They went about their business faithfully obeying their callings to be in—but not of—the pagan world.
Standing in the Rubble: Our Lives After Obergefell
Check out Hannah Ballinger’s article, exploring ways we can “stand firm.” Read here.
And they were standing still when “the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music” was heard, and all the world fell apart around them.
Why? They themselves said: “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 that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Simply put, they feared God rather than men, and trusted Him more too. They trusted that God could deliver them from the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. But even if He did not, still they would not bow, because they feared God more, and knew that God would rescue them in the end if they remained faithful (Matthew 24:13).
So What About Us?
Stand firm! Nothing more is asked of you. You don’t need to fight a losing culture war, save our nation, or retreat into a commune. You simply need to stand firm on God’s truth and in His will.
Shalom Carmy, a Jewish teacher, says it this way:
“For now, my obligation, and that of other simple believers, is to repent what has been done amiss, and to pursue lives of personal and communal wholesomeness and fortitude, suffused by aspiration, dedication and progressive growth towards personal purity and sanctity. Sanctity begins in the intimacy of self and community. If the witness of such lives helps us to gain tolerance, as I hope, that is good; if it inspires others to join us, even better.”
And if the witness of our lives does not help us to gain tolerance? Well, I can only add what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said, “even so we will not bow down!” so let’s stand firm with these great men. Stay loving, hopeful, and faithful to the end.