I met a man on my journey to the Middle East who represents the fullness of what faith is all about. He was known by many, but didn't seek fame. He cared for all, but didn't desire reward. He reached out to people of all faiths and social class, and just cared for people. As he told me his story I sat in awe and wondered….
How can this man who comes from a third world nation believe so strongly?
I've been all over the world teaching the gospel, and every time I come home to America I feel like I'm back in this surreal "Truman Show" like place of faith. Sure there are millions of committed believers here. After all, we have freedom to worship like no where else in the world. But when I compare my faith to the faith of a man who lives under constant scrutiny, I feel weak. It's almost like it's too easy to go out and tell people about Jesus here, because I really don't risk much, do I?
Sure I risk the potential rejection.
I risk being made fun of.
I might even risk my employment if I push it too far.
But in the end…How many of us really risk something for our faith?
I was reading Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego again on my journey last week. Remember Daniel 3? The men who served in the Babylonian kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar who were so committed to their God, they refused to bow down to the idols erected in the kingdom, remember?
They were sought out and told to bow or be thrown in the fiery furnace.
Remember what they said?
"Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to
defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,
the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from
your hand, O king. But
even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve
your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)
I want faith like that. Don't you?
Don't you want to live in a place where you can look at the storms of life and face them with confident resolve?
As I listened to my friends story of faith I was quickly reminded…
To have faith like that you have to live in a place where storms may consume
To have faith like that you have to spend time with the God you serve
To have faith like that you have to have the confidence and understanding that God will save
To have faith like that you have to commit to serve just one God, and cast out all other idols
There are lots of fires all around life.
Even today, I'm learning what it means to say in the face of the storm, "Even if He does not (rescue), I will not serve another."
And I guess that's what it takes. The cost of strong faith is endurance. You must be able to walk through the trials of life, and even if they consume you for a time; the ultimate story of the gospel is one of salvation. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many
kinds, because you know
that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its
work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
It's no fun walking through the fire.
But what if you had the chance to meet God there?
May God give you that strength today.