|Sunrise on South Beach|
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,"There is no need for us to defend ourselves before youin this matter.If our God, whom we serve,can save us from the white-hot furnaceand from your hands, O king, may he save us!But even if he will not, know, O king,that we will not serve your godor worship the golden statue that you set up." Daniel 3:16-18Many of you may remember this story, as I do, from my religious education in grade school. It is the dramatic story of the three young men thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship the idol created by the King. However I had never really heard the message of their words to the king. Their faith in Yahweh was not based on any saving action of Yahweh. It turns outs in the story that Yahweh did save them. They walked about in the flames of white hot furnace with a divine person. Nebuchadnezzar converts on the spot. This nicely framed ending of the story can easily divert us from the fundamental meaning.
The three do not refuse to worship the king's idol because they know that Yahweh will save them. In fact, they don't really know as they admit to the king. But even if Yahweh will not or cannot save them, their faith is strong and unyielding. It is strong because it is not based on any saving action by Yahweh but on a relationship which has developed between them and Yahweh.
Faith is not transactional. In other words, there is not quid pro quo bout our relationship with the Divine One, at least not in the way that the world understands. Faith is not based on what the Divine One can do for me or does for me. This is true as long as I think as the world thinks. But if I think as the Divine One thinks, as Jesus says, I will have eternal and abundant life in the only way that matters.