10 January 2012

Repost: Uncompromising Men

For my reflections on the 3650 challenge, I was going to write about something else this morning, but this story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo kept coming back around as I thought about what to write.  Particularly after yesterday's post about Daniel's faith, this seems like a worthwhile follow up.  Rather than re-crafting the story, I thought I would re-post this essay I wrote about 2 years ago with the title of "Uncompromising Men".


Yesterday, I watched Braveheart, my all-time favorite movie. William Wallace was described at one point in the movie as “uncompromising.” I want to share 2 more stories about uncompromising men.

First, in Daniel 3, we read of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo--3 of the young Hebrew men brought into King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace when he seiged Israel. These 3 young men, probably in their teens or early 20s, were commanded to bow down to the golden image created by the King just like everyone else in the kingdom, but they refused. The king was furious and told them they would be tossed into a furnace if they didn’t comply. In verses 16-18, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this 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 that you have set up.'” The furnace was kindled 7 times hotter. The men who carried these three to the furnace were consumed by the heat and died. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo were delivered. They were uncompromising.

Second, there was an early church father named Polycarp who fought for the truth of scripture, rejecting early church heresies. He managed to live into his 80s when he was finally apprehended by the Roman government. The Roman proconsul asked him to proclaim “Cesar is Lord”. He refused. Polycarp was subsequently burned at the stake and when his captors were going to nail him to the stake to secure him, he said, “Leave me as I am. For He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails." Though he died, Polycarp was uncompromising.

There are a few differences between these stories. In the first, the men were young, in the second he was old. In the first, they lived, in the second he died. There were also similarities between them. In both cases, men were unabashedly committed to following God. In both cases, an oppressive ruler was commanding them to worship someone else. In both cases, the men were offered a final way out. In both cases, the men refused. They weren’t concerned about following the social order. They weren’t looking around to see how other guys were handling it. They didn’t care what other people thought of them. They were uncompromising.

Gentlemen, we live in a society where men who compromise are not only accepted but celebrated. We are allowed to proclaim staunch commitment (in other words worship) to football, NASCAR, or hunting, but when we say that Jesus is the only way to salvation, we are cast aside as insensitive. Relativism rules. Even American churches, we are encouraged to compromise. We are told, "You have your idea of God, I’ll have mine." Men, God calls us to step up. God calls us to follow Him wholeheartedly. We are told to lead (I Cor 11). We are told to pray (I Timothy 2:8). We are called to be uncompromising.

In Luke 9:62, Jesus says “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” These men above, did not look back. They kept their focus right.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who was also killed by the Nazis. He said, “Besides Jesus, nothing has any significance. He alone matters.” Men, be uncompromising about the only thing that matters, Jesus Christ.

Daily Reading: Matthew 18, Numbers 21, 1 Corinthians 5, Revelation 2, Song of Solomon 4, Psalm 143, Proverbs 24, 1 Chronicles 25, Daniel 3, Acts 3

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