Christians today find themselves living in an increasingly secular and anti-Christian culture. Beliefs and values that were once widely held are now dismissed or even attacked. This can make it challenging for followers of Jesus to stand up for their faith.
The Bible offers much wisdom on how Christians can remain steadfast in an unbelieving world. Here are several key principles from Scripture:
Remember you are in the world but not of it
Jesus told his disciples “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). Christians should expect opposition from the world because they follow Christ. This world is not our home, as believers our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
Do not be surprised by persecution
Jesus also warned his followers that just as he was persecuted, so would they be. “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). The apostles echoed Christ’s words, reminding believers “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Standing up for what is right often brings ridicule and hardship. But Christians can endure knowing they share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:12-16).
Speak the truth in love
Christians are called to speak the truth even when the culture rejects it. But this should always be done in love, not condemnation. Paul wrote “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). God’s truth should be shared gently and respectfully, seasoning words with grace (Colossians 4:6). The goal is to win people to Christ, not drive them away.
Put on the full armor of God
In a hostile world, believers must be fully equipped with God’s spiritual armor: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). This protects us from the enemy’s attacks when taking a stand. Christians also need persistent prayer to stay strong.
Have courage to obey God rather than men
When facing opposition, Christians should have courage to obey God first. After being flogged for preaching Christ, the apostles rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” and kept right on teaching (Acts 5:41). When commanded to stop, they responded “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). Their allegiance was to Christ no matter the cost.
Entrust yourself to God’s faithful care
Jesus endured hatred and persecution without retaliation, instead “entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). When believers face attacks for their faith, they can be comforted knowing their lives are in God’s hands. He sees all and will judge righteously in the end. We can confidently yield to His will, taking heart that our trials are “producing for us an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Love your enemies and pray for them
It is easy to grow angry and bitter toward those who ridicule or mistreat us for our faith. But Jesus commanded his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This reflects God’s own gracious love toward us even when we were His enemies because of sin (Romans 5:8). Loving the unlovable softens hard hearts, just as Stephen’s prayer for his killers as he was martyred helped transform Saul into Paul.
Let your light shine through good works
The best way to stand up for Christ is through a righteous, fruitful life. Jesus said “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Godly conduct and character often do more to draw people to the gospel than arguments. Christians should live above reproach, being salt and light in a decaying world (Philippians 2:14-16).
Do not compartmentalize your faith
In a hostile culture, it is tempting to silo our faith, treating it as a private part of life unrelated to everything else. But Jesus is Lord over all of life. Christians must apply biblical principles to every area – from work to education to government – without compartmentalizing. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). There is no neutral ground.
Remember the battle belongs to God
As Christians take a stand, we can be confident that the ultimate victory belongs to Christ. Every knee will bow to Him one day (Philippians 2:10). No earthly power can stop God’s kingdom from advancing. Jesus encouraged His followers “take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The apostles prayed for boldness to continue speaking God’s word in the face of threats, and “the place was shaken” showing God’s power (Acts 4:29-31). The battle is the Lord’s.
Look expectantly for Christ’s return
In the midst of an unbelieving culture, Christians can be inspired to continue standing firm by the certainty of Christ’s second coming. He will return as conquering King to judge the world and make all things new (Revelation 19:11-16). The knowledge that this age is passing away and God will set all wrongs right helps us persevere now (2 Peter 3:13). We stand for Christ because a far greater day is coming.
Count it joy to suffer for Christ
When persecuted and reviled for speaking God’s truth, Christians can have joy in the privilege of sharing in Christ’s sufferings (Acts 5:41, 1 Peter 4:13). The apostles rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor” for the Name. There is an eternal perspective in which “our light affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We stand firm knowing trials now prove and strengthen our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Trust God’s grace is sufficient in weakness
On our own we lack the strength to face hostility. But Jesus told Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When Christians confess weakness in the face of opposition, admitting inability to stand on their own, God’s grace meets us and His power works through us. We can have confidence in God’s strength to uphold us (Isaiah 41:10).
Living in an anti-Christian culture poses many challenges for believers who seek to walk faithfully with Christ. But His Word offers powerful encouragement and equipping to stand strong when the world opposes biblical truth. By clinging to God’s promises, Christians gain courage to continue shining light in the darkness until Christ returns.