How can a Christian stand up for faith when the world seems so anti-Christian?
You might imagine that standing up for Christ involves preaching on street corners, traveling as a missionary to far off countries, or debating your atheist professor. However, standing up for Christ actually begins much closer to home. Standing up for Christ begins, first of all, with a personal confession of faith.
Romans 10:9-10 says, "Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."
Those who believe in and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are declared righteous before God, not because of their own righteousness, but based on the righteousness of Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-26; 5:17; 8:10; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Galatians 2:21; Philippians 1:11; 3:9; 2 Peter 1:1). So, you might say that standing up for Christ begins with your own standing before God, your justification. In order to stand up for Christ, we must first believe in Him.
Secondly, standing up for Christ involves the pursuit of personal holiness. Although we are declared righteous in God's sight based on the righteousness of Christ, we are also called to grow in Christ experientially. This ongoing process of being conformed to the image and likeness of Christ is referred to as sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Romans 6:19, 22). Standing up for Christ without pursuing personal holiness is nothing but hypocrisy (Matthew 23:28; 1 Peter 2:2). Even though Christians will never reach experiential perfection (glorification) until after death (Philippians 3:20-21), it is our great privilege and responsibility to be continually pursuing and growing in holiness now.
Hebrews 12:14 calls us to, "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." First Peter 1:15-16 says, "But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" In order to stand up for Christ we must seek to be like Him, holy.
Thirdly, standing up for Christ means loving others and doing good to them. We should especially do good to fellow believers (Galatians 6:10). At this point, you might want to object and ask when we will get to evangelism and reaching the lost. However, loving each other is one way in which we show the world we are Christ's disciples. Jesus told His disciples, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). In order to stand up for Christ, we must love the body of Christ, which is made up of our fellow believers.
Fourthly, standing up for Christ involves proclaiming the truth of the gospel boldly and unashamedly. Mark 16:15 says, "And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'" Paul wrote in Romans 1:16-17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" In order to stand up for Christ, we must share the good news about Him with the world.
Finally, standing up for Christ means being patient and prayerful toward those who oppose Him and us. Second Timothy 2:24-26 instructs, "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." In order to stand up for Christ, we must also pray for those who oppose and persecute us (Matthew 5:44-48).
To sum it up, standing up for faith in an anti-Christian world means living a life of faith with intentionality and integrity. We must first know Christ and then strive to be like Him, recognizing that this work is only accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. We should treat others with love and respect. And we must share the truth with those who don't yet know Christ, praying that God will soften their hearts and draw them to Himself. We pray for God to be at work in us, bringing us to completion (Philippians 1:6), and to give us strength and courage to stand in Him (Ephesians 6:10-20; 1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
It can be difficult to stand up for faith when it seems that so many oppose us. But we know that "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:3-5). As James wrote, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4). Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and in Him we can stand strong for faith.
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