This morning my bible study group discussed the word “loyal.” We are studying the book of Daniel which is a literal picture of that word! As the the room lit up with chatter, ladies excited to learn more, and dig deeper, this word suddenly grew a life of its own to me. Each of us had come to from a different place in our lives. Young moms, grandmas, college students, to “whatever I am” (I still haven’t figured it out) sat at the table. I was astounded as the words nearly jumped off the page as if living! This was our 4th week in the study, and I’ve not been able to put it down! Chapter three, whacked me on the side of the head several times! Until this week, I had never read it in light of the days we are living in.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is so chock full of lessons I couldn’t begin to unpack them all in a single blog post! Courage, bravery, devotion to God… but a new one for me… loyalty.
Beth Moore described it this way. To be loyal means to already be prepared, devoted, reliable, fixed, and certain. I promise I am getting to my point! Just imagine with me for a moment, the scene as these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to bow to this 9 story statue of gold. Now to fully disclose, because my life ministry revolves in the halls of government, those are the glasses I wore when I read this. You are going to have to look through your own set of lenses.
O’l King Nebs knew how to lobby! He knew how to talk to his fellow political buddies and get what he wanted. When he stretched out his arm as to direct their commanded worship, the political officials ate right out of his hand. They knew what to do. I can imagine them falling quickly to see who could fall first, hoping the king would see them and they would perhaps be promoted to a higher position!
Imagine the scene again….the sound of music filled the air, King Nebs arms outstretched, men falling to their face in worship of this beautiful idol…
Can you picture it friends? The horizon flat and devoted to Nebs…
He even gave them a second chance! He commanded them front and center for questioning saying, “Hey guys, I know you certainly must feel the heat from the furnace. I know you can see the flickering flame…all you have to do is bow. I bet he was looking at their kneecaps. Were they shaking? Were they going to bend? Come on boys, BOW!
No…. they didn’t, and that ticked him off! Instantly he went from lobbying mode to boiling rage. You know the rest of the story. They threw these boys in the furnace and they came out without a hair on their head burned, or even smelling like smoke!
As I left bible study, I began to think of that word loyalty. The picture of that courageous silhouette just refused to leave my mind. I am a terrible artist, but I pictured it something like this:
I thought of the battle we will soon face this year for religious freedom. I thought of my lifelong devotion to the Republican party and certain political candidates who seem to be on the verge of compromise. I felt sadness because I have given so much of my time to them. They once stood for my values, but now face a very hard decision to literally stand alone with the threat of persecution… in their own party.
I know the political realities. I’ve worked within system for 13 years. I am VERY loyal to them. I’m very loyal to my governor. I won’t apologize when I say I adore him. But the question of loyalty demanded my question…Who am I loyal to?
If it comes down to leaving a party who abandoned their principles, am I willing? If it comes to losing a supermajority, am I willing to stand? If it comes to losing a governorship to the other party, am I OK with that? Who am I loyal to?
With a bit of sadness, I knew the answer. You see, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “you know, we haven’t caused any trouble lately, let’s go defy the king.” No. They had already decided ahead of time who their loyalty belonged to. It belonged to God. That question truly was ALREADY answered.
We need to have our answer pre decided and prepared ahead of time.
Your loyalty questions may not come from inside the political system like mine. It may come in a different form, but we all have to answer the question. The times we live in demand we think about who we will bow to when our new world demands we pay homage to the anti-christ spirit of the age. No one gets a pass on that.
Who owns your loyalty?
- Does your pastor own it?
- Does your lawmaker own it?
- Does a political party own it?
- What about your family?
- Or does God own your complete loyalty?
I’m just going to be real with you. For me personally, it is scary. I know what the reality means when I have to call out my political party. There really are “realities” when it comes to electing our lawmakers. Voting for the lesser of two evils is a real thing. I know what it means to have to answer this question and risk losing an election to a more corrupt party. It would be easy to compromise my values. To be clear, I am talking about convictions NOT preferences. We can all compromise on preferences. What I will not compromise on are the things God is very clear about.
My loyalty is not to any party or political system.
For you it may be different… perhaps you have a pastor who has taken a pass when it comes to preparing you for the persecution coming to your backyard. Perhaps he is a great guy, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, he’d rather be relevant than preach the truth of God’s Word. Perhaps you know God is calling you out of that but it’s so difficult.
Where is your loyalty? To God, or this man/church?
Maybe it is your family. You fear speaking out because you will lose family relationships. You fear being mocked and ridiculed. You know you have been called to warn and speak truth, but you just can’t because of fear.
Where is your loyalty? To God, or your family.
I could go on and on with example after example. This week I want to encourage you. Do a loyalty self check. If you were faced with the furnace like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, where would you turn?
One of my favorite quotes from this week’s study says this:
Loyal is not something we suddenly are at the flash-moment of testing. It’s something we already were that surfaces in the test. Loyalty therefore means that when a sudden temptation poses a character question, if we have true conviction in that area, we do not have to consider how we’ll answer. Loyalty means that question has already been answered. We simply act upon it. -Beth Moore, Daniel
For those of you like me whose hearts burn with passion to bring our country back to her founding principles. For those of you who are deeply concerned about losing our religious freedom right here in our state… hold on to this message. We may soon be required to make a choice. A hard choice of abandoning a party, or un-electing one of our own because we are first loyal to our God.
- Have you pre determined your loyalty to Christ?
- Have you already answered the question in your own heart and mind about whether anything could make you turn away from Him?
- Could any circumstance…make you renounce your faith in Christ? ~Beth Moore