Have you ever heard the biblical story of the Fiery Furnace? It’s...a lot.
If you didn’t read it (because again, it’s...a lot), here’s a recap: The king built a statue and commanded his people to bow down and worship it. Three of God’s people (with the best names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused. The king tossed the three men into a fiery furnace, but God saved them and did not allow flames to consume them. Then the king changed his ways.
In 1985, Christian rock artist Russ Taff released a song based on this text entitled “Not Gonna Bow.” Honestly, the tune is pretty great and the music video is even better—shoulder pads, perms and all. There’s something to this song. Taff’s lyrics recall the trumpet sounding and the whole world bowing down as the three men stood and said, “Not gonna bow to your idols, not gonna bow, oh no, not gonna bow to your idols, I won’t bow down!”
We are one month away from Election Day and already I am so lured by the trumpet and song of our everyday mortal idols. It’s so easy. I open up Twitter or Instagram, read the news, or text with friends and I immediately bow down. I share the meme, snicker at something cruel, or worse--I close it all down and ignore it.
When the world bows down to the idol of wishing ill on our enemies, I too bow down. When the world prostrates before the statues of political greed--of winning at all costs, I too have laid down.
When the world worships at the altar of privilege and apathy, I too have submitted.
And when I do that--when I fail to rise about it, but instead bow down--I give these moral shortcomings authority over my life. I become faithful to their ways, rather than God’s ways.
God has asked one thing from us in return for God’s unending love: faithfulness. To be faithful to God means we refuse to bow down to those powers in our world that distance us from God and from one another. It’s a daily struggle—and thankfully there’s grace when we miss the mark. But to remain faithful, to grow closer to God, I have to start recognizing those idols that cause harm to my discipleship and refuse their grip. Taff was on to something: “I won’t bow down.”