“You are commanded… to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down, and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6
Daniel tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar was the mastermind behind this big idea to make a statue of himself for everyone to worship at the cost of death. Have you ever considered the stupidity of this? I know I am not supposed to call other people stupid, but this guy must not have been playing with a full deck. He most likely forced slaves to build a statue of himself and then tried to force other people to worship said statue. He knew what the stuff looked like before they turned it into a statue. He knew that there was no power in this statue; that it could not do anything; that the idol was… well… idle. Why did he want them to worship it? Did he ever stop to think that forced worship is not real worship? Did it ever cross his mind that maybe people were just going through the motions and that they didn’t really want to worship him? Was he concerned that this was just for show? Apparently not.
Now, maybe I should not pick on King Neb too much. He was just doing what every man-made religion has done throughout time immemorial: ask people to change the outside, without caring about the inside. That is all Neb was doing. He was not interested in the way people thought about the statue. He did not seem to care whether people formed well thought out beliefs about it. And he did not want them to see themselves in any personal relationship to the statue. This kind of thing is all that man-made religion has ever wanted. But this is what makes the way of Jesus so much different.
The character of God revealed to us in Jesus is so very different. Jesus did not want obedience for obedience sake. He wants a relationship with his people first. While relationships may be stickier and messier, they are so much better! According to Jesus, God wants you to care for and love him in return. He cares about what you think and believe, not just about what you do. In fact, a big part of Jesus’ message to us can be summed up in the words he spoke on the cross, “It is finished.” Did you get that? He did it. The work is done. The idols are idle, but Jesus saved the world! With Jesus, there are no motions to go through, he is not even asking you to contribute anything… at all. He simply wants you to accept the gift that he is giving… Himself. Accept his gift afresh today.
Pastor Josh Rose