Ok, another Sunday morning post. Sermon is all done, everything is ready for worship. It's early. It's quiet. The coffee is good, and God said, "Write." I've learned that when God says that, I had better do it. I've been writing alot this week, just not putting it out as much lately. I've got a couple projects I'm working on, and trying to stay ahead of the eight ball in the office. But this morning, what I was supposed to write came to me clearer than it has in a while. I've tried showing a little more restraint this week because I have caught a lot of flack over my outspoken nature recently. But this morning, not so much.
I admit up front that this morning's blog is not for the overly sensitive, so if you are easily offended, please stop reading now. This morning's blog is about something we don't like to talk about because we all have them, even I. It's something we'd rather not think about because we are forced to realize that we're not as dedicated to THE cause as we first thought. What is it?
Idols. Not the "American Idol" kind of idol, although that gives me an idea for another blog at some point. The type of idol I'm talking about this morning is anything that we place in a position of greater importance than answering our call to be disciples, and disciple makers. It can be anything, and idols are different for practically everybody. It can be as simple as skipping church, or as grand as a 90' tall gold statue.
Those are the idols we think of when we hear the word, you know what I mean, the statues of the Old Testament. This one in particular was made by King Nebuchadnezzar and set up in the plain of Dura in Babylon. He ordered everyone in the region to worship this idol, or be thrown into a blazing furnace. Now, I've never been thrown in a blazing furnace, but I can imagine it wouldn't be fun. But at the same time, I have to ask myself if I could throw my God away because I was being threatened. If threatened with death, who knows? And I'm just being honest. Self preservation is a powerful force. In the day to day, though, I can't just toss God away like that. However, I would like to think that even on threat of death I would stand up for what I believe, and that is what this story is about.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego...you've heard the names I'm sure. I think there was even a cute little song about them when I was a kid but I don't remember. Three guys who broke the rules, and it should have gotten them killed. The king said to...they didn't...and someone ratted them out. It happens. It happens a lot. But, they would not bow to this idol. I think it's a great story. They knew what would happen. They knew that if they didn't listen, and do as the king said, he would kill them. But they wouldn't bow.
Idolatry is a sneaky sin. Most sin is. Idolatry is behind a lot of what folks consider worse sins. Romans 1? You remember what it says. That's the "go to" for anyone condemning homosexuality, right? If you look close, the actual sin was idolatry..."therefore"...God gave them over to the lusts of the flesh. It's sneaky, I'm telling you. It's everywhere. And in one way or another, this is the one sin that gets most all of us.
It's in the desire to lift yourself up by pushing someone else down. It's in our desire to protect our image as a church. It's in the weakness of remaining silent when everything in us is saying "speak out." It's in turning our head when we see someone who is hungry, or lost, or sitting by the side of the road holding a sign. It's subtle: it's a comment with a hidden barb...it's pride...it's self...it's being overly sensitive so folks will bend to your wishes...it's in the fear of offending...it's even in self-preservation.
I actually hope that I live my life, standing up for the other, to the point where someone orders the furnace heated to seven times the normal. I hope that my ministry is such that there is no question who my God is. I hope that I can wade through the pettiness and into the deeper waters of true discipleship. I hope that I'm given the strength to stand up to those who tell me I can't. I hope that I have the endurance to continue standing when everything in me says, "That's enough." And I hope that when I'm finally tossed in the furnace (if you think following Jesus won't get you tossed there, you kidding yourself), and they look in to see how things are going, that they see "one like the son of the gods" walking with me.
So, thank you Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for reminding me that no matter who is on the throne here, and no matter how hot they order the furnace to be made, that my god is not ego, pride, self preservation, or image...my only God, the only God I will bend a knee to, is Jehovah.