Mark 3:1-19; 2 Samuel 6; Daniel 3
Community is often a missing element in this new age that we live in. Ironically, while we tend to be in groups more often the permanent connections that create community are missing and we often feel like we are alone in the midst of large groups. When we are not in groups we often withdraw into our social networking sites replacing true community with status updates, pictures of foods and tweets blasted out to our network of “friends.” (And yes, I know all the places this is being posted.)
Hananaiah, Mishael and Azariah, more commonly known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were part of a large group of government officials. They were called, along with other officials, to bow down before the king’s gigantic golden idol. Those three had experienced a special kind of community that included a relationship with God and refused to upset that community with God to go along with the group and bow down to the idol. To make a long story short, the king was upset and arranged for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be thrown into the furnace. The furnace was so hot that men throwing those three into the furnace perished from the heat. The king did a visual check on the furnace. “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’” The sense of community that had caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to refuse to bow down to the king’s idol and face death was now revealing benefits. They didn’t go through the fire on their own. God was in their midst protecting them and the end of the story had them leaving the furnace and the king proclaiming praises of their God.
For those who follow Christ, community begins with our relationship with God. When we have that relationship with God, then we extend our community to all those who follow God. We are never alone when we are with God and then when we are with His people. One of the “criticisms” of early Christians was that they loved each other before they even knew each other. That’s the sense of community we need to have to help each other in our world. That’s the sense of community that should draw others to Christ. We should always keep our community open for any who choose to come to Him.