B. Is it easier to keep the faith when you are harassed for it or when you receive a lot of support for it? What steps can you take to strengthen your faith?
Hebrews, Life Application Bible Studies (NLT), p. 38
I’ve often thought about this. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself, as I have in passing, “Maybe if the church would face some real persecution then it/we would be more faithful and less greedy for power and prestige.” Or something to that effect, maybe? As I consider this question, I keep on coming back to the difference between “keep[ing] the faith” and speaking it, proclaiming it, associating with it. Not that that is necessarily appropriate – it’s just what happens in my head.
Anyway, I don’t think it is necessarily easier to keep the faith in either scenario.
I think it much easier to do a gut-check when you are harassed. If you are not really willing to pay the price, to have your actions meet your statement of faith, you will turn away. When harassed, maybe even persecuted, few without real, abiding faith will associate themselves with Christ. But that doesn’t mean it is “easy” to keep your faith when harassed. It just means there is a feedback system for testing your faith. And even that is not foolproof.
It is certainly easier to associate ourselves with Christ when we get verbal support for it. One only needs to look at the many politicians who want to associate themselves with Christianity in order to further their political careers. And many follow them for it! Our culture has a long standing tradition of considering that Christ has offered good, moral teaching that is wise and beneficial. Who wouldn’t want to associate with that? When Christ is the societal norm, it is unsurprising that the church body is filled by many who have no part in the Church – who are only there to give lip service as a means to their own advancement or ease. But I don’t think that means it is “easier” to keep the faith. It may be that much harder because we have to be more vigilant against falsehood, more watchful and guarded against a false sense of God’s favor on our sinful attitudes and behaviors.
Keeping the faith can be difficult. And one who keeps the faith is not really looking around him asking others if he is doing the right thing. He is looking at Christ and asking to be made in his image, moment by moment. Whether praised by men or not, faith says, “Christ is superior to every other thing that the world can offer. I will not turn away.”