BLESSED ARE THOSE
There are so many ways Christians are intimidated daily in this fallen world: by our lack of wealth and material possessions, careers, health, appearance of our body, intelligence, area of residence, ethnic group, race. We all went through pressures to conform when we were younger and unfortunately most of us still face it as adults.
But the one area we most face intimidation and suppression is in our Christian faith.
How many really take a firm stand for what they believe in – the Word? Most Christians face it everyday one way or another. Our views don’t agree with the rest of those in the world and because most people are not familiar with the bible, they try to attack its credibility and the sanity of those who have faith in God’s word.
A very common approach is to convince us that the bible is outdated. Outdated? Not so. Prophesies have continued to be fulfilled at an accelerating rate during the last few decades such as idolatry, false prophets, kids murdering parents (and vice versa), greed, natural disasters, and others. And it is all accelerating at a rapid rate. Jesus knew what we were headed for and warned us, and here it all is!
Name-calling is an outright typical response Christians get, such as “brainwashed cultists, non-conformists, fundamentalists, narrow—minded bible thumpers”, just to name a few. Along with the names come strange looks, testing our knowledge and character, ostracism, and even violence. No one ever said living a victorious lifestyle in Christ would be easy, but the Lord promises to be there for strength and wisdom.
The entertainment industry that we have constantly attached to our ears and eyes all day is displaying promiscuous, homosexual, and violent lifestyles every moment of the day in an attempt to desensitize the audiences into accepting these sins as a normal, healthy, and uncontrollable part of life. As a result, no one accepts responsibility for their actions anymore; sin is justified as cool, sophisticated, or natural and mistakes are placed on anyone else nearby. This is because there are not many righteous examples portrayed anymore for people to follow. Good people and deeds are usually not the news makers anymore.
Scientists manage to convince people that anything can be discovered or made by man (denying creation) and that we can take care of ourselves (but the state of our world’s natural resources remains a mess). This helps to lead many people to think a personal God is not needed so why should we believe He really exists (yet most are awed by paranormal phenomena, other spirits, etc.). Or, on the other extreme God is blamed for every horrible thing that happens so He gets pushed aside, shamed, and dethroned.
Common sense and rules of normalcy in society are always changing, and people don’t know where to turn anymore. They are confused. They often seek out the meaning of their existence from the wrong sources, cults and spiritual mediums. Many false teachers entice people into their groups or “churches” with promises to find what they are looking for, then misuse the bible and mix in religious dialogue with other philosophies to the followers’ and teachers’ liking (i.e. The Secret, Prosperity Blessings, movements, and slick endorsement of popular programs.) Poor gullible people nod their heads eagerly in agreement and, interestingly, never bother to double-check for themselves what is actually written. Mediums call up spirits that tell people what their itching ears want to hear (2Timothy 4:3). The bible warns us to test the spirits (1John 4:1) as many are deceptive demons eagerly leading people down the wrong path.
With influences of all kinds closing in around us, even some Christians are sometimes at a loss for defense, if not properly prepared. The majority of the world’s people seek everything under the sky for answers except the One who has it, our Lord in prayer and in the Word. They don’t understand how we Christians know the things we do or why we are content and sure of our beliefs and purposes. So what can be done to standup to the pressure of worldly peers and to remain sure of our faith? Consider the following:
- “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Not everyone you witness to will be convinced to seek the Lord. However deceiving, their faith in something or no faith at all may be just as strong as your faith. Prayer is needed here for a softened heart. These people are still in the dark about what true, uncomplicated faith really is. This is your best protection for your growth in faith as well as against persecution and deception.
- “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) The only way to know garbage from truth is to read the truth regularly in the bible. A chapter a day keeps us refreshed on His word. Also, the absence of trash in your life causes less confusion. Censor!
- “Put on the full armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:11) There will be those who will scoff at you now, and it’ll get more frequent as we draw closer to His return. Knowing His Word is your 2nd best defense.
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5) Be excited about your faith! If one doesn’t share that happiness with others, how will they see the difference the Lord can make in a person’s life? They could easily assume that the Christian life is not so happily worth living.
- “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love…” (Ephesians 5:1) Set an example. Put God the Father first in your life as Jesus did. Ask yourself how Jesus would handle a situation and do the same. Ask in prayer for guidance.
- “Always be prepared to give to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1Peter 3:15). Prepare your testimony ahead of time to share the message of salvation as a free gift, how you came to know the Lord, and how he works with you through everything in life.
- “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Religion, spiritism, and faith are subjects that come up a lot in conversation. Learn the differences between the three. Remember, we are called to live by faith, NOT works or religion. No matter how nasty some people may get, stay calm like our Savior did. Listen and then share your views. Don’t appear to agree with them if you don’t, but don’t argue. Continue to be an imitator of Jesus Christ, as these people are watching you now.
- “Do not be yoked with unbelievers…” (2Corinthians 6:14) Of course this is unavoidable as we have to live in this world with unbelievers, but having regular fellowship with other Christians will keep us together, prayerful, encouraged, fruitful, loved, strengthened and understood. This also keeps us accountable in deeds and words of our faith, which in the long run helps us mature.
- “Blessed are…” (Matthew 5:3-12) Keep a copy of the The Beatitudes on your cubicle wall, refrigerator at home, or in your wallet or purse. This is a great reminder of your faith and the rewards for endurance. Also helpful is having your favorite bible verse accessible or a small bible to pull out for a needed moment of encouragement.
- “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Let no one insist on what or who you should worship. If your faith is true, no one will be able to.
So, as the Lord Jesus’ return draws nearer and times get tougher following these steps will help to keep you strong in your faith and attentive in spiritual warfare.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness…knowledge..self-control…perseverance…godliness…brotherly kindness…love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…for if you do these things, you will never fall.”
(2Peter 1:5-8, 10b)