From very humble means Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation's largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states, says David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. “Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.” In an open letter Mr. Green shares that, “We're Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I've always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God's laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that's what we've tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week's biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest.” “We believe that it is by God's grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We've not only added jobs in a weak economy, we've raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.” “But now, our government threatens to change all of that!” “A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance.” “Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.” Mr. Green goes on to say, “It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines. Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that's raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It's not right.” “I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief.” “So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don't like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.” “My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American and no American business should have to make. The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church. David Green CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Mr. Green and his family are standing strong in their faith in God. They believe that their God is able to carry them through this great trial they are experiencing and with trust in God they will continue to seek freedom from law that has been anti-Christian in its application. Real faith is trusting God in the good and in the bad that His will is to be done for His glory and honor.
In the book of Daniel we read in chapter 3 an event in the lives of the three Hebrews who came to the exile country of Babylon with Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. This event called for these three men to exercise Real Faith in the God of the Hebrews whom they served. Daniel 3:1-6 - King Nebuchadnezzar decided that he would make an image of himself out of gold reaching the height of ninety feet and at nine feet wide. He placed it on the plain of Dura and had everyone who was in some capacity of leadership in his kingdom to assemble for the official dedication of the statue. While all were standing in front of the statue they were told what to do.
Daniel 3:4-7 NIV
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Notice that this group of leaders was made up of many different nations and people of varied languages, maybe many of them captives like the Hebrews were. We see that when the music began they all fell down and worshiped the image of gold that looked like the king. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to fall down and worship the idol, some astrologers came running to the king and telling him that they didn’t fall down like he had ordered. They were pointed out as “those Jews” whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon. (Notice these men could have been greatly jealous because Jews were serving the king and they also pointed out that the Jews “neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” In the verses 13-18 we see how King Nebuchadnezzar goes into a rage and how the Hebrews respond.
Daniel 3:13-18 NIV
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before 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."
Polycarp lived during the formative era of the church, at the end of the era of the apostles, when the church was making the transition to the second generation of believers. Tradition has it that he was a disciple of John. A humble but direct man, Polycarp won many to Christ, but he also attracted the attention of the Romans who burned him alive in 156 A.D. Upon interrogation he refused to recant his faith in Christ. As the soldiers grabbed him to nail him to the stake, he spoke these words: "leave me as I am. For He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved without the security you desire from nails." Polycarp would not be the last to suffer burning for his faith. John Huss, William Tyndale, just to name two. Their stories share a common theme: unyielding allegiance to Jesus Christ and a willingness to even die for their faith.
What Is Real Biblical Faith?
Real Biblical faith is trusting in God alone. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego showed us that faith is not trust in our beliefs. It is not trust in what we want to happen. Nor is it trust in our ability to read God’s secret will. Real Faith, quite simply, is trust in God alone.
Real Biblical Faith is not… faith in their faith
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not have faith in faith. They did not trust in their belief. They did not know what would happen to them. Their faith was not measured by how much of their belief that they could muster but by the greatness of their God. Their trust was in God alone.
Real Faith is not… trusting in what we want to happen
The Hebrews no doubt wanted with all their hearts to live but that is not real faith just wanting. We need just look at the Faith Hall of Fame chapter in Hebrews 11:35-38 to learn that things didn’t always work out the way God’s people wanted. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not have a faith that said that God should act in a certain way. Faith is not trust in what we want to happen. Faith is trust in God.
Real Faith does not… compromise or conform
To compromise one’s beliefs as a Christ-follower is a constant pressure in our culture. Often it is a subtle pressure that occurs in conversation or while watching TV or in front of your computer. It is the pressure that Mr. Green and Hobby Lobby are facing as they are told to conform to federal law that says they have to provide drugs to cause abortion. They stand as Christians refusing to compromise their beliefs in the face of “the furnace.” How can we stand up under that pressure? It’s a pressure that God’s people have always faced; none more dramatically so than three Hebrews in Babylon named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Without real faith in God it is easy to conform to pressures in your life from others. The Hebrews could have easily fallen down and worshiped the golden image as all else were doing but that would have been a compromise of the personal faith in Jehovah God. Conforming to others beliefs was not a part of their faith. They “fell down”, but not before the golden image, they declared their worship for God and Him alone. (Romans 12:1-2, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.) - Our worship is in God and Him alone, we are who we are by His mercy. - The world tries to shape you into its image … outside forces all around you are at work. - The Holy Spirit is the inside force in Christ-followers. - The more you allow the Holy Spirit to control you, the greater the force to conform to Jesus. - We are to conform to the image of Christ not to the world– (Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”.)
Daniel 3:22-30 NIV
The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing 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, Your Majesty." 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." Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Real Faith is not… blind faith
We need a faith that can stand up in the face of reality. - There are those around you who may have the power to “cast us into the furnace.” - Our faith needs to face the reality that we may go through the fire. (I Peter 1:6-9, 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.) - Many preachers today want to convince us that nothing bad will ever happen to us, the enemy can’t touch us; everything we have is divinely protected. Many people walk around with their head in the sand believing nothing bad will ever come and when it does “their faith” isn’t strong enough to overcome it.
What we need is…
A faith that is always subject to the divine will of God. Are you willing to live under the divine will of God? A faith that will be committed to God regardless of the outcome. Will you follow God even if the outcome doesn’t look good at all? A faith that has complete confidence in God’s power. Do you believe that God has the power to do anything He wants? A faith that is completely submissive to God’s will. Are you willing to give God all your life no matter what will happen to you? What kind of faith do you display daily? Are you walking with the God the Hebrews walked with? As Paul Harvey would say…The rest of the story…
Your "Faithful" Life?
You see that for these three men their faith helped them to walk through the fire…but not alone! The king said in verse 28, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Can you imagine the King of Babylon speaking that way about three men who just defied him? God is able to even have His enemies praise Him when His children live in faith and obedience to His command. Can God be seen in your “faithful” life? Are you walking with Real Faith and people see God in you all the time? We want to praise God with you that He is being seen in your life and making a difference. Are you ready to begin to walk with God in Real Faith…no matter what? Do you want to have “Real Faith” …in God alone? Trust in Jesus Christ who loves you to forgive your sins and give Him your heart and life that He may live in and through you now and forevermore.