A timely message
My family spent this past weekend in Richmond for a soccer tournament. Whenever we find ourselves out of town on a Sunday, we generally try to find another church to attend for Sunday morning worship services. So at 8:30 this past Sunday morning, we found ourselves at Stony Point Church in Richmond. And what a blessing it was.
The church is mid-way through a sermon series called, "Daniel Among the Lions: God's Purpose for the Church When the Church Feels Powerless." On this particular Sunday, Pastor Steve Constable took us through Daniel 3:12-23. This is the part where Daniel's audacious friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idol. In fact, they said, "[O]ur 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..."
What I personally love about the boys' response to the king is their confidence that their God would save them--and their simultaneous declaration of their readiness to die as martyrs if that was the cost of their refusal to give worship to the state rather than their Creator.
As Constable pointed out in his sermon, there are a number of lessons the Church in America can take from the example set by Daniel and his friends, who lived as aliens in the court of a foreign king:
1. They chose their battles wisely. They didn't fight the king over everything, but they drew a line around the most important things, and they would not cross that line.
2. They responded in measured ways rather than seeking opportunities to challenge the king or defy him openly.
3. They showed generosity to and concern for their political rivals.
4. They were prepared to die, if necessary, for their faith.
Constable's sermon stopped before the part of the chapter where we learn the outcome of the boys' courageous stand against the king. In fact, when the Scripture passage was read at the beginning of the sermon, Scott leaned over and whispered to me, "Are you kidding? How can you stop there?"
But that's really the point, isn't it? Faith in a God who Sees, a God who knows, a God who Cares, and a God who is Sovereign, no matter what the present, temporal outcome of my situation.
I was inspired by this quote that Constable shared, a quote from Winston Churchill: "The world looks with some awe upon a man who appears unconcernedly indifferent to home, money, comfort, rank, or even power and fame. The world feels not without a certain apprehension, that here is someone outside its jurisdiction; someone before whom its allurements may be spread in vain; some one strangely enfranchised, untamed, untrammeled by convention, moving independent of the ordinary currents of human action."
I want to be that person who is outside the world's jurisdiction, don't you?
Thank you, Stony Point Church, for ministering to my family this past weekend.
You can listen to this sermon in its entirety on the church's website, at www.stonypointchurch.org.