Many people love the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three young Hebrew men in exile in Babylon who were thrown into a fiery furnace for their refusal to bow down and worship an idol. They violated King Nebuchadnezzar’s order rather than violate their commitment to worship the one true God. Rather than acquiesce to the king’s command, the young men replied with what had to be one of the greatest statements of radical faith ever uttered. They said:
“Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
It takes great faith to believe that God is able to deliver us from our difficulties. It is, radical faith, however, to say that even if God does not do that, it’s okay. Believing God for miracles is a great thing, but believing God in tribulation or persecution, when no miracle comes, is faith at a profound level. To have a persevering faith like this may not bring deliverance from our trials, but it will make us “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1)
This type of radical faith is not formed through a life of ease, where everything goes as we want it to. It is formed in the crucible of persecution. There are many in the Persecuted Church who may not have an expansive theological knowledge, but they have lived through difficulties that have given their faith the opportunity to become deep and powerful. A faith that is not dependent on circumstances, enabling us to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Persecution gives us the opportunities to develop radical faith.