Mention the words ‘radicalised’ and ‘religion’ in the same sentence and the immediate perception is that I am creating a recipe for spiritual disaster.
However, the modern Christian Church must be challenged so that it adopts a clear policy of radical obedience if Christians are to effectively combat the growing menace of the secular society.
For and to Christians, the modern pluralist society is becoming increasingly depraved when compared to Biblical doctrine and teaching. Compared to the Christian faith, the world must seem to be increasingly deteriorating ‘out of kilter’; the globe has gone anti-Christian crazy!
It must seem to many Christians that the modern world is opposing virtually everything that we believe. But the Christian Church needs to rise up and challenge the modern world through a process of radical obedience to the Word of God.
We, as a Christian Church, need increasing spiritual wisdom to live. We Christians must learn the true meaning that we are God’s ambassadors on earth. God can still use us to spread His word and He is asking us, as a Church, to rise up and live lives of radical obedience. But what does this radical obedience mean in practical terms?
We need to remember that even though we Christians are in the middle of chaos, God is still in control. We see this example in the Old Testament in the book of Daniel.
In chapter three, we see how the then Babylonian ruler, King Nebuchadnezzar regarded himself as a divinity and decided to build a golden image, which when the music was sounded, all humans must bow and worship it.
Taken in a modern context, God has positioned ordinary people in places of power who through the process of radical obedience can get the world back in control.
In those Babylonian times, three Jews had been placed in positions of power - verse 12 - “But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon.”
However, three of these Jews - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue when the music sounded as they were committed to the one true God, which is the Christian God.
King ‘Neb’ flew into a blind rage and ordered that the punishment of being thrown into the fiery furnace be passed on the three Jews.
Even the threat of this did not deter the three Jews into abandoning or even compromising their faith in God. Have we, as Christians, ever been tempted to abandon or dilute our faith simply to fit in with the world?
Such was King ‘Neb’s rage at this supposed insult, that he ordered the furnace to be heated to seven times its normal temperature. Still the three Jews would not recant.
Indeed, such was the intensity of the heat from the furnace that when the three Jews were thrown into it, even those doing the throwing were killed. Then the miracle occurs - King ‘Neb’ sees four people walking in the flames, not three.
King ‘Neb’ immediately recognised the falseness of his own golden image, and in verse 28 makes this declaration:
… praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Likewise, we Christians living in the modern world must not choose to compromise on issues of our faith. We Christians must recognise that if we place anyone or anything above God, then it becomes an idol, especially when these things become our purpose for living.
Christians need to realise that everything in this world comes under the authority of Jesus - but do they actually believe this Biblical truth in their everyday lives?
King ‘Neb’ abused his power and, indeed, uses his power as a form of control over the people - this is what happens when God is not put first. It creates a fear factor, forcing people to follow blindly.
Christians need to follow the path of radical obedience and tell those in authority - ‘Our God is greater than your culture!’ So many laws are being passed, or are in the process of being implemented, while the Christian Church sits silently by.
Under this process of radical obedience, parents and grandparents need to raise up a generation of Biblical-style Shadrachs, Meshachs and Abednegos who will stand up and bluntly say ‘No’ to laws of the nation which are anti-Christian.
Indeed, given the threat to the minds of young children by the secular society, the role of parents and especially Sunday schools and Bible classes becomes even more important in this battle between the powers of light and those of darkness.
Modern day Christians are not slaves; many - like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - are positioned in posts of authority, but maybe are too scared of the consequences of the laws of the land or political correctness gone mad to stand up for the Christian faith.
Christians must not lose sight that they are the children of God, and when any authority asks them to break the laws of God, they must say ‘No’.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to obey God, and not bow the knee to the pagan image, however, for many Christians, it is an easier life for them to keep their heads down, and to assimilate into the secular culture rather than oppose it. Unfortunately, many Christians want to be seen as trendy and ‘going with the secular flow’
In the process of radical obedience, it is not about Christians arguing; it is about them standing firm in their Biblical faith. Radical obedience is faith firmly positioned in prayer.
In accepting the need for this radical obedience, each of us as Christians must ask ourselves - how much do we trust in God?
We must recognise that the Church’s influence on culture is waning - so how are we to respond individually as Christians to this challenge? Are we prepared to say ‘No’?
In our work, if we are asked to promote a lifestyle which we know to be spiritually and Scripturally wrong, are we prepared to stand and be counted, or wilt and try to justify the ways of the world simply not to offend.
We Christians must remember that on Judgement Day, we will be held accountable for our actions on earth. God has chosen us to tell the truth and we must tell this to others and step out in faith.
Modern day Christians must be prepared to step into the secular culture’s fiery furnace remembering and believing that God is in the midst. In Daniel Chapter Three, we saw how the leader of a nation acted and changed his tone when he saw Christians in action.
Have we Christians the courage to identify ourselves as children of God, or will we be like Peter and deny Jesus? If the three Jews can bond together, stand firm and defeat the Babylonian fiery furnace, then modern day Christians need to stand up and be counted to confront the secularist and pluralist society’s fiery furnace.
Do we have any Shadrachs, Meshachs and Abednegos in our Churches?
Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online at www.thisissunshine.com