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September 22, 2023

Stand up for what you believe in. This is a common way of thinking and behaving. And why shouldn’t it be? It evokes integrity, values, and strength. But what do Christians mean when they say that we should “take a stand?”

Of course, mostly we talk about standing up for what we believe when it comes to Christian principals, teaching, or biblical morals. Certainly, followers of Jesus should exemplify with our lives and speak in ways that promote what Jesus and the biblical authors taught and did.

Paul says this, 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[a] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. -Philippians 1:27-28

Then again, Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” -Philippians 4:1

Paul’s words are encouraging and challenging. I think in our increasing polarizing culture of anger, canceling, and arguing, Christians need a solid (or perhaps fresh) view on what it means to “stand firm” for Christ. Often, I think we believe this to mean that we must speak biblical truth to those who haven’t claimed Jesus as Lord. This can be problematic. Let me explain.

You don’t see Paul or Jesus, for example, teach non-believers that they must live as if they were believers. What you do see is Jesus consistently challenging the religious leaders in their hypocrisy. Paul addresses the churches to live like Christ toward one another. Neither Paul nor Jesus ever stages a protest. They never picket, post public messaging, or angrily chastise non-believers. When you do see them becoming angry it is only toward believers who are not living out their faith. Non-believers are challenged to re-think their lives in accordance to the person of Jesus, but they are never told to align their morals with Jesus before they call him Lord.

Standing firm, then, cannot mean that we show our non-believing neighbors or coworkers what we believe at any and all costs (caution, gentleness, compassion, and patience tossed to the wind). So how does Jesus, then, stand firm in his beliefs toward his Father’s heart and mission? He does it through abundant love, mercy, and relational connection.

Jesus always healed and touched the sick with compassion. He corrected and rebuked sin with forgiveness and grace. When people approached him with little faith, he challenged them to believe and turn to deeper places of trust. He did so with love and mercy. I feel that it is time that the Church takes a stand for love, abundant mercy, and grace. This was the method of Jesus. Truth was spoken boldly, and it was done so with great love. And by so doing, he gathered many sinners to himself and toward heaven.

Does this mean that Christians shouldn’t protest things that violate God’s desire? No, it doesn’t mean that. Does this mean that Jesus followers shouldn’t place signs in their yards or comment on social media? No, it doesn’t mean that either. Does it mean that we should never engage in healthy dialogue with others with whom we disagree? Absolutely not. In fact, the opposite is true. What “standing up” does mean is that we approach our speech, decorum, and interactions with one another with a blanket of grace, peace, gentleness draped over us. May our words, posture, and demeanor be so covered with the qualities of Jesus that others feel the warmth of that cover as well. Will others experience that with your post? Your sign? Your words?

Jesus almost always interacted with others in a relational connection. He looked people in the eye. He touched them. He referred to them as son or daughter. He knew them. That’s the point. He took time with them. In an era where we shout our opinions out into the air, post our thoughts on social platforms, or voice our agendas with sternness in our tone… we would do well to stand firm in our Christian convictions by connecting in relational conversations with others who do not know Jesus or follow his will for their lives.

Lastly, we should be sure to stand firm in our own faith journeys. Perhaps we’d be wise to heed Paul’s words with introspection at our own hearts and how they align with Jesus’s call for our lives. Jesus doesn’t need us to defend him. He can do that on his own. He invites us to surrender to him, walk with him, and invite others to do the same.

Standing firm with Jesus (and trusting him to hold me up when I fall),


Nathan Hinkle

Lead Pastor

White Oak Christian Church


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