You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
It’s been hot and humid here for the last few days; the temperature reached 34°C in Kent on Wednesday making it very difficult to sleep at night. Mustn’t grumble it is summer after all! Some people like the heat and will lie out in the sun all day. Of course, I welcome the sun for showing me the beauty of God’s creation but to lie out in the sun and fry is not for me.
But then I don’t suppose Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were too happy about being thrown into a furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. The King had made a golden image which he commanded all his people to worship, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused. These three, although Jews, had been appointed by the king to oversee the running of Babylon and so had positions of influence at court. For them to refuse the king’s command was a very dangerous step. Nevertheless Abednego said to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’ Daniel 3:16 (NIV)
They were prepared to sacrifice their lives for their faith.
This country is becoming more secular. People are turning away from organised religion, certainly Christianity. Church attendances are falling with churches closing down and parishes amalgamating. For some reason the message of God’s love for man is not getting across.
As Christians it is our calling to stand up, to proclaim our faith in Christ crucified. We must never be afraid to say loud and clear, “Yes, I am a Christian I believe in God.” Let us not apologize for our faith. Remember: ‘Like a lamp, you must shed light among your fellows, so that, when they see the good you do, they may give praise to your Father in heaven’ Matthew 5:16.
The best way we can do that is by showing God’s love for the world in our lives, our words and actions; by standing up against injustice, hatred and religious or racial intolerance, by feeding the hungry, by showing compassion for our fellow man in his suffering. As St Paul said: ‘6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.’ Romans 12:6-9 (NIV)
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years