Bread – Edges

April 17, 2015


Readings for Friday, April 17, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 3:1-18; 1 John 3:1-10; Luke 3:15-22; Psalms 16, 17, 134-35

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In today’s reading from Daniel, we have the history of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown by Nebuchadnezzar into the fiery furnace to die for failing to bow down to his idol-god, only to be rescued by God. I always love this re-telling and so I read the entire adventure.

However, that is not today’s reading from Daniel. Today’s reading from Daniel begins with Nebuchadnezzar’s creation of his golden idol-god which everyone is instructed to worship but it ends at the edge of the unknown. It ends this way: “Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego answered and said to the king … ‘If this be so [if they are cast into the fiery furnace], 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 you have set up.’” Dan. 3:16-18

The edge has been reached. Everything is on the line. The king, the governmental powers, has drawn the line with a terrible death to follow from disobedience. The three guys have said, “No,” we serve God and not your golden idol. The point of decision.

How did these three young men get to the point that they did not fear a painful death? How did they get to the point that they were willing to step out beyond the edge in faith, rather than step back from the edge in fear? Maybe because they did not see the alternative before them as death, but as life … either life continuing because God saved them in the present or life eternal because God brought them to Himself.

There are many edges in life which we reach and then have to make a decision. Do we go forward in faith or step back in fear? In such circumstances, everything we are taught, everything that is in us from physical birth, and everything in the world screams at us to step back, to avoid the risk, to protect ourselves, to live for another day, to engage in “strategic” retreat. But at that edge our call from God is to step out in faith that God is true, that His promises will be fulfilled, that His hand is mighty.

But people would say that faith like this is a foolish faith and that we should temper our decisions with wisdom. Well, like so many arguments it is both correct and incorrect. If your faith is in a God which is the “Cosmic Bellhop,” ready to fulfill your every desire and whim, then you have a foolish faith because you reject God’s sovereignty. The three guys in our history lesson above knew that God was sovereign and that He might choose to save them in one way and He might not. The three young men did not create the edge they found themselves on, but the edge found them because they were faithful to God. This is where wisdom comes in, but it is not man’s wisdom but God’s. Man’s wisdom would say walk away from the edge and bow down before the golden idol; God’s wisdom would be to worship Him and Him alone and trust Him. So the better warning is not what people say but this – “Faith should not presume upon God but rely upon Him, and we should temper our decisions with Godly wisdom.

In our reading today, there is the worship edge (do we love the world, ourselves, or God), but we also hear about the love edge.

In our reading from 1 John, the apostle says “…whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

To me, this is the real edge of life – the point at which we choose to either love our brother or not. And this edge occurs all the time. You are busy and are interrupted by another person —

do we turn away to our important business or do we listen and love our brother? You are wondering if you can make the house payment, you only have three days of groceries in the kitchen, and a beggar comes to your door, do you close the door before or after you give your brother some food? You look across the street at your neighbor’s house and realize that the grass is growing too high, do you shake your head and leave for work or do you smile at the opportunity and love your neighbor by getting the grass cut?

When life is seen as presenting one opportunity after another to live in Christ or live in oneself, we realize that we live on the edge all the time, deciding either to retreat to self or step across the edge in faith. Why do we not love all the time? Because we are well-practiced in retreat and fearful of going beyond the edge, of taking the next step in faith.

Do we have this strength ourselves? Of course not. If we can say “no” to the world and ourselves and “yes” to God, if we can ever step beyond the edge, if we can love our brothers and sisters, it is only because we have the power from God to do so.

If we really want to obey God and not man, if we really want to love mightily, if we really want to step across the edge onto solid ground, then we have one prayer – Come Holy Spirit. Amen.

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© 2015 GBF

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