Thriving in a Hostile World as a Christian

When the weight of the world seems to be bearing down upon us, Jesus encourages us to "look up." This is not a mere suggestion but a vital command that reminds us of where our true hope and security lie. In the words of the Apostle Paul, we are called to "fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The Sharpness of God's Word
As we lift our gaze heavenward, we find that Jesus himself is the "sharp two-edged sword" that cuts through the darkness and confusion of this world (Revelation 2:12). His Word is the unshakable foundation upon which we can build our lives, for it is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). When the world around us seems to be crumbling, we can cling to the truth and authority of God's Word, for it is the very voice of our Savior speaking directly to us.

Remembering Who We Are
In the midst of a hostile environment, it can be all too easy to lose sight of our true identity as children of God. But Jesus reminds us that he knows exactly where we dwell, both literally and figuratively (Revelation 2:13). He is intimately acquainted with the challenges and chaos that we face, and he calls us to remember that we are not defined by the circumstances that surround us, but by the unbreakable bond we share with him.

Standing Firm: Holding Fast to the Truth
As the pressures of the world mount, Jesus calls us to "hold fast" to his name and to the faith that we have professed (Revelation 2:13). This is no easy task, for the temptation to compromise our convictions or to blend in with the crowd can be overwhelming. But the Savior who knows our every struggle is also the One who has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

The Courage to Endure
The story of Antipas, the "faithful witness" who was martyred for his faith, serves as a sobering reminder of the high cost of discipleship (Revelation 2:13). Yet even in the face of such intense persecution, Jesus commends the believers in Pergamum for their unwavering commitment to him. This is the kind of courage that we are called to emulate, trusting that the God who has called us is also the One who will sustain us, even in the darkest of circumstances.

The Strength to Resist Temptation
The believers in Pergamum were facing intense pressure to "cave in to the culture" and to "bend a little bit in their beliefs and in their convictions" (Reference Article 1). But Jesus calls us to resist the temptation to compromise, reminding us that our true home is not in this world but in the eternal kingdom of God. When we treat this world as our permanent residence, we lose sight of the hope that is ours in Christ, and we become vulnerable to the lure of the enemy's schemes.

Leaning on the Promises of God
In the face of a hostile world, it can be easy to succumb to discouragement, fear, and even despair. But Jesus reminds us that we can find strength, courage, and unwavering certainty in the promises of God.

One of the most comforting truths that Jesus imparts to the believers in Pergamum is that he knows exactly where they dwell (Revelation 2:13). This same assurance is ours as well, for our Savior is intimately acquainted with the challenges and circumstances that we face. He is never distant or detached but is always near, ready to guide, sustain, and empower us.

As Christians, we are called to live as "strangers and exiles on the earth," for our true citizenship is in heaven (Hebrews 11:13). This means that we must not become too attached to the comforts and pleasures of this world but must keep our eyes fixed on the eternal home that awaits us. When we remember that this world is not our final destination, we can find the strength to endure the trials and tribulations that come our way, knowing that our ultimate reward is secure in the hands of our loving Savior.

Cultivating a Resilient Faith
Thriving in a hostile world as a Christian requires intentionality, discipline, and a deep reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. It's not enough to simply hold onto our faith during the good times; we must actively work to cultivate a resilient and unshakable relationship with God.

Immersing Ourselves in God's Word
One of the key ways we can build a resilient faith is by consistently immersing ourselves in the Word of God. As we've seen, the Scriptures are the very voice of Jesus, cutting through the noise and confusion of this world to speak truth, wisdom, and life-giving encouragement directly to our hearts. By making a habit of meditating on God's Word, we equip ourselves with the spiritual armor necessary to withstand the attacks of the enemy.

Fostering Authentic Community
The believers in Pergamum were not alone in their struggle; they had one another, and they were able to draw strength and encouragement from their shared faith in Christ. In the same way, we need the support and accountability of a vibrant Christian community to help us stay the course. Whether it's through a local church, a small group, or a network of trusted friends, the power of genuine fellowship cannot be overstated.

Cultivating a Posture of Prayer
Finally, as we navigate the challenges of a hostile world, we must maintain a deep and abiding posture of prayer. It is through our communication with God that we find the wisdom, strength, and supernatural empowerment to face whatever comes our way. When we bring our fears, our doubts, and our struggles to the throne of grace, we discover that the God who loves us is also the God who is able to "do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

Embracing the Call to Courageous Faith
The path of Christian discipleship is not an easy one, but it is a journey that is marked by the unwavering presence and power of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As we fix our eyes on him, stand firm in the truth, and lean on the promises of God, we can find the strength, courage, and resilience to thrive even in the most hostile of environments.

This recap is from the message shared by Bellaire Campus Pastor Chris DeArman on Sunday July 7, 2024. Check out the full message below!
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