Indiana Jones is my favorite fictional character. Historian, adventurer, nazi fighter, all-around dare devil. He’s awesome. My favorite of his movies is the Last Crusade, a race to get to the Holy Grail before the nazis. At the end of the movie, Indiana is in the cave where the grail is located, along with his father, and a group of nazis. The path to the grail is marked with many life-threatening obstacles, but Indiana is motivated to get this chalice of Jesus (which of course, grants eternal life to those who drink from it) because the nazis shot his father. Check out this video clip of Indiana approaching one of the final obstacles that stands in his way of getting the grail…
That’s a leap of faith in the face of extreme danger! Entering into a new school year, it’s important to gear up and focus on how to keep faith strong in spiritually dangerous places. School can be a spiritually dark place: language, crass joking, peer pressures, the things you see people doing, and even science class can teach things to veer your beliefs from God being the Creator. How do we maintain our faith in spiritually hostile places?
We are encouraged by faithful people that have gone before us, especially those who maintain faith in the face of incredibly dangerous situations. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar (of Babylon) conquered Jerusalem, sending God’s people into exile and captivity. During this captivity, the king sent some of the best and brightest captives back to Babylon - seeking their wisdom to help govern his territories. Three of those men that were sent back to help govern went by the birth names Hananiah, Mishael, and Asariah, but were given new names in captivity: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In the third chapter of the book of Daniel, you read the account of these three incredibly faithful men. To summarize… King Neb set up a statue as giant golden statue of himself, as big as the Washington Memorial, that every person was to bow to and worship upon command. So when the music rang loud, everyone bowed down to this golden statue, except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This did not please the king - so he brought them in and told them they must bow to the statue, and if not, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their response is fueled by faith, in Daniel 3:16-18 we read:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you in this matter. 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. 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.”
In the face of extreme danger, these three faithful men didn’t even flinch. They didn’t care what the king said and they didn’t even have a single worry about the furnace - they were fully surrendered to the God they served. They had unwavering faith in a dangerous spot, and how easily can we sometimes compromise our faith for something far less dangerous? Just because we want to look cool, act cool, or sound cool - we will compromise our faith. What a powerful testimony that we can be motivated by, when these guys didn’t flinch in the face of real peril.
Because of their faith, the three men were thrown into a fire that was so hot, the guards who took them their were killed. God protected them from the fire, so that not a single hair was singed and their clothes didn’t even smell like smoke! The king ordered them to come out and ended up praising God for this miracle, and allowing the people of the nation to freely worship, also decreeing that no one could say anything against the One True God.
So how do we keep our faith strong when entering into a spiritually dangerous place? Take the focus off of yourself. When Indiana Jones was seeking the holy grail, he wasn’t focused on his danger as he approached that death pit - he was focused on his dying father, who desperately needed that healing chalice. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the face of danger, they didn’t focus on themselves and how badly the fire would hurt or their impending death - they focused on their God that they were fully surrendered to. When you’re in spiritually hostile environments like school, there are plenty of temptations and peer pressures to pull you away from God. But if you’re truly serious about having a genuine faith in Jesus, in those moments when you’re tempted to compromise your faith, take the focus off yourself and on the grand scheme of things. Consider what God would want you to do and what He can do through you in those moments.
God worked through the faith of these three men - they made a great impact. Not only did God provide them a miracle because of their faith, but also people were given freedom to worship and God’s name was praised! When you head into a spiritually dangerous place, are you going to be prepared to walk in faith? Are you prepared to take the focus off of yourself and give it to Jesus fully? If we follow in the footsteps of these faithful brothers before us, our faith will remain strong in the face of danger.