Until they were tossed into the fiery furnace Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not much different from other civil servants and citizens of the empire. They were hard-working, honest, upright people -- just like all the other hard-working, honest, upright people all around them.
They saw themselves as different. They were Jews; their neighbours and co-workers were Babylonians. They worshiped Yahweh and tried to follow Yahweh's Law; their neighbours and colleagues worshiped the gods of Babylon and the kind of violence, greed and brutality that those gods embraced and encouraged. But in their day-to-day life and work, there was not much difference, and there was no reason for anyone around them not to suppose they were just good Babylonians like everyone else.
It was only when their real and ultimate allegiance was questioned and they faced the fiery furnace of social-political-religious testing, that their relationship with a different God than their neighbours' gods became evident. It was only then that people looking at them could see the "fourth figure" -- the presence of God, with them. And it was only then that those who knew them had any reason to make a decision for or against the God these three men believed in and trusted.
- is being hard-working, honest and upright the whole story about being a follower of Jesus, the Christ?
- are there situations and issues today where we are we challenged in uncomfortable ways to declare our commitment to a God and a Law different from others around us?
- are there aspects to our society and values held by people around us in Canada and in Winona and Hamilton-Niagara, that are contrary to the ways of God and the good news of Jesus?
- are there hot times of testing still, that help bring our relationship with God into the open?