Standing Up For What Is Right
People That Did The Right Thing, No Matter What
For as long as I can remember, my favorite Bible character has been Daniel. I lumped him in with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, even though their stories are technically different. These people stood up for what they believed in, no matter the cost. It must have been very scary to refuse to worship the king's idol, or pray, when these acts were illegal. It always showed me that God's law always trumps the law of man. Fortunately, in my lifetime, God's law and the laws of the United States usually haven't conflicted.
Ben Franklin even proposed that the phrase "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" on the seal of the United States. Why? When you live in a society that allows you to follow God's law freely, rebellion is wrong.
Over the past 15 years, I have started to realize that there could potentially come a day when I had to choose between following my beliefs and following God. The first time I realized it was when I was in the military. The very first time the word "bless" is used in the Bible is in Genesis 12:2. God is talking to Abraham, and says "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing." He follows it up in Genesis 12:3, however, with "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." When I realized that America was growing farther away from Israel, I thought about what I would do if I was asked to commit an action that would hurt Israel. Fortunately, I never had to make that choice.
As the years have gone by, the choices are closing in. I don't believe in pornography or having someone put their hands in my pants; therefore, I am now unable to fly any more, because it's against my beliefs. The government wants to control more and more of what I say. What would happen if they asked me to do something contrary to the Bible? I hope that I would side with God and not man.
The following people are heroes. Not because they were famous, were beautiful, or could throw a ball better than anyone on the planet; they are heroes because they were willing to stand up for what they believed in, even though they risked everything, even their very lives, to do so. We think about our military heroes, and rightfully so; these people are heroes too.
Photo courtesy of John-p.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego
Faithful in Babylon
While Daniel was involved in a separate incident from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, they all lived about the same time, and they all knew each other. Nebudchadnezzar was king, and he did not believe in the Judeo-Christian God. One day, he decided to erect a huge golden statue, and asked everybody in his court to bow to the statue when music was played. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew that this was wrong, and refused to bow to the idol. Nebudchadnezzar was furious. He ordered them to bow, or he would throw them into the fiery furnace. When they told him that they would only obey God in this instance, he ordered the furnace to be lit so hot that the people who ended up throwing the three lads in the fire were killed. Although they risked their lives, God stepped in and saved them. Many think that it was actually Jesus in the flames with them.
Daniel was an honest guy, and everybody knew it. He was promoted pretty high into the kingdom, and his fellow advisers became jealous. They knew that the only thing that they could get Daniel in trouble for was because of his belief in God. So they convinced Darius, who was king at the time, to not allow anybody to pray to any god except to Darius for 30 days. Daniel always prayed, and continued to pray, even though it was against the law. He was thrown into the lion's den for his "crime". God saved Daniel, and the lions didn't eat him. It wasn't because they weren't hungry though: Darius chose to throw the jealous advisers in later, and they ended up eating them before they even hit the ground.
One of the stories that happened in my lifetime that stood out to me was the story of Cassie Bernall. She was a student at Columbine High School, and was killed on April 20, 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attacked the school, murdering many. When asked if she believed in God, she said yes, and was killed for it. One witness disputes this fact.
After she was killed, a piece of paper with this Bible verse (from a translation of Philippians 3:10-11) was found in her room:
"Now I have given up on everything else--I found it to be the only way to know Christ and to experience the mighty power that brought Him to life again, and to find out what it really means to suffer and to die with Him. So, whatever it takes, I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead."
Whether she actually said yes or not, she truly was someone who loved God.
"Are You Guys Ready? Let's Roll."
Todd Beamer is another hero who died within my lifetime, although not because of his faith. He just happened to be on United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. Terrorists had taken over the cockpit, and most people believe that the plane was going to fly into the United States Capitol. They probably didn't know that at the time, but they did know that other terrorists had flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Instead of acting fearfully and letting fate take its course, Beamer acted courageously and helped stage an assault on the terrorists. The plane ended up crashing in a field in Pennsylvania, but it was better to crash there than into the nation's capitol.
The Apostle Paul lived during a time when it was dangerous to be a Christian. During his lifetime, he was stoned, shipwrecked, and beaten. He continued to plant churches and tell others about Jesus, even through all of this. He eventually was thrown into jail, and stayed there for quite a while.
Under the Emperor Nero, Paul was beheaded. Nero wasn't a very good guy. He ordered that the city of Rome be set on fire, then blamed the Christians for the fire. He made Christians wear wax shirts and set them on fire in order to illuminate his gardens. Paul was just one of the people to fall victim during this time period. He stood strong and continued to follow the Lord, even when it was difficult.
Stood Up Against Gladiator Fights
In the 390s, a Roman General, Alaric, oversaw a great military victory for Rome. The custom in Rome at the time, after winning a great military victory, was to march into the city of Rome with some of the captives and hold gladiator games. Gladiators would fight to the death. They would fight with swords and spears for a while, then the bodies of the dead would be dragged off, the bloody sand would be covered up with a fresh layer, and then some would fight with spears and nets against other swordsmen. When one of the gladiators was wounded, the people in the stands would be able to decide whether he lived or died: thumbs up meant they wanted him to recover and fight another day, thumbs down, he would be executed.
During these gladiator games, a robed figure leaped into the arena from the audience. He approached two of the gladiators, laid his hands on them, and told them to stop shedding innocent blood. "Do not requite God's mercy in turning away the swords of your enemies by murdering each other!" he exclaimed.
The audience was angry. "This is no place for preaching!" they exclaimed. The gladiators were going to resume attacking each other, but the man stood between them. The gladiators were also angry with this interference, and stabbed the man. Some from the audience threw stones at him. He died in the arena.
The man's name was Telemachus. He was from Asia, and had been making a pilgrimage to spend Christmas in Rome. When he saw the gladiator games, he was disturbed by the wickedness of what he saw, and tried to convince others that what they were doing was wrong.
Although he died, the people were shocked to see him die. No other gladiator games were held in the Colosseum after that.
I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
People have stood up for what they believed in for centuries.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian, but he died fighting for a different cause than faith. He wanted to live to see the day when people would be judged based on their character, not on what color they were, or who their parents were. He led a bus boycott in Alabama in 1955 to protest the unfair laws which forced black people to give up their seats to whites and to sit in the back of the bus. He gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963.
He believed in non-violence and living a life of integrity, but a lot of people weren't very happy with him. He was sent to jail for his involvement in non-violent protests. Although he did the right thing, he paid for it with his life. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Although Mohandas K. Gandhi was not a Christian, he still believed in doing the right thing, even though it cost him his life. Gandhi first saw injustice in South Africa, and was upset at the racism he saw there. He was later involved in the struggle for Indian independence from British rule. He didn't fight with guns or physical weapons; he fought with non-violent noncooperation. This landed him in jail more than once.
He didn't like to see others hurt each other. When India was freed, the Hindus and the Moslems were fighting. Gandhi didn't want to see this bloody civil war. He also didn't like the treatment of the Untouchables in his country.
Some people were very unhappy with Gandhi, and in 1948, he was assassinated by a radical Hindu. Although he died, his influence lives on. He strongly influenced Martin Luther King Jr. Today, many people still believe that his non-violent tactics are the correct way to approach many struggles.
Polycarp lived in the second century A.D., during the time of Marcus Aurelius. At this time, many Christians were martyred. Marcus Aurelius made some walk over nails, sharp glass, and shells.
Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna (at the time, bishop just meant pastor). When people started searching for Polycarp, he hid. He was found by a child. He was taken, and asked for some time to pray, which he was given. The guards took him to the marketplace.
He was told that if he rejected Christ, he would be released. Polycarp's response was: "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?" He was tied to a stake, and a fire was lit under him. When the flames didn't touch him, a guard was ordered to pierce him with a sword. So much blood came out at that point that it put out the fire.
John Huss was born about 1380 in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). He was a follower of the ideas of John Wycliffe, who preached against the Catholic church and translated the New Testament into English. Because of his beliefs, he was accused of heresy.
He was tricked into appearing at the German city of Constance, where he was arrested. At his trial, he was condemned. His judges made him wear a crown with devils painted on it. After they tied him to a stake and piled wood up to his neck, he was asked if he would recant, and he refused. He then made a prophetic statement: "You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil." A century later, Martin Luther changed the world; his coat of arms was the swan.
While the flames surrounded him, Huss ended his life singing hymns.
William Tyndale is well known for translating the Bible into English. This did not make the church hierarchy very happy at the time. He opposed Henry VIII's divorce. He was betrayed by his friends, and condemned to die as a heretic.
His final words were "Lord! Open the king of England's eyes." While he was in prison, the jailkeeper, his daughter, and other people in his household were converted.
Fox's Book of Martyrs
This book recounts the tales of many who gave their lives for Jesus. It is a story of miracles and of faith.