How easy is it to make the right choices?
The Narnia books are favourites of mine. Just about everyone has heard of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I actually prefer some of the less familiar ones, such as The Silver Chair. In that book two children, Eustace and Jill, are sent to Narnia by Aslan to look for a lost prince. He gives them four very simple instructions – but they find it surprisingly difficult to remember and follow those instructions. Whenever they are faced with making a decision, they get it wrong. Finally, they have been told that they will recognise the prince because he will be the first person they meet who asks them to do something in the name of Aslan. Unfortunately the person who fulfils this condition is a violent raving madman, firmly tied to the silver chair of the book’s title, who is begging them to release him. What should they do?
This is the big problem for us, isn’t it? Although we often know what we ought to do, actually doing it can be embarrassing, difficult, or downright dangerous. It isn’t ‘cool’ to say that you are a Christian – maybe people will laugh at you. It isn’t easy to be the odd person out, to hold back from doing things that everyone around you is doing – like getting drunk on a night out, for example. And what if doing the ‘right’ thing will mean losing your job, or going to prison? It happens…
Taking advice from non-Christians may not be a good idea, because the wisdom of the world generally tells you to act in your own best short-term interests. What would Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have been told by their colleagues, or their boss? “Keep your heads down and don’t make an issue over this – it’ll wreck your career.” (But it didn’t, of course; in the end, they were promoted!)
One good principle to follow is to commit yourself to doing God’s will, as far as you know it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know that God’s people are forbidden to bow down to idols of any kind, under any circumstances. The words, “You shall not,” of the Ten Commandments erect a big ‘No Entry’ sign that we really mustn’t ignore.
Another is to stick together with other Christians. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were mutually encouraged by making their stand together. They presented a united front, which made their witness all the more impressive – and effective.