It pushes one’s resolve to “go against the grain,” or to “swim upstream” especially when everyone around you is doing the same thing. Matthew 7:13,14 says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. What does it take to live counter to prevailing belief systems in a culture? What does it take to defend your beliefs and religion sometimes at the threat or cost of your life as countless Christians are doing throughout the world and who have done so in antiquity?
If our behavior conforms to a worldly standard then we are not pleasing God. The world is defined as any system, belief, idea, or philosophy which contradicts the word of God. Presently, even churches that profess belief in Jesus Christ are in agreement with every trend and belief system the world presents. James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Even though Christians have to live in the world, our behavior is not to conform to the belief systems of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” I John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The Bible is replete with scripture that confirms love of the world or living according to the course of this world (culture) places the Christian in a dangerous place with God. One way to assess if your behavior is against God is to observe how popular the idea or the behavior is. If a majority of people are in agreement with a behavior most likely it is offensive to God. This is what is meant by the scripture in Matthew about the destructive path being broad. Doing things God’s way isn’t always easy, but it is always right.
The most important thing it takes to live counter to a decaying culture is faith. When Shadrach, Meshach, and AbedNego stood before King Nebechanezzar and eloquently spoke saying, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.” “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” These men spoke with confidence that God was able to deliver them from an agonizing death by fire, yet their faith was so strong that even if God chose not to deliver them, they chose not to serve false gods. Only faith in God can produce bold actions in a Christian and give us the resolve to stand; no matter what.
The next thing that it takes to live counter to a majority in a culture is courage. I didn’t know that when I was five years old and my mother put me, and my brother and sister on an all white bus to help desegregate an all white school system that God was preparing me to have courage. The ability to live a courageous life isn’t inborn, it is something that God prepares one for. It is also something that one is called to do throughout one’s life. When God spoke to Joshua and said, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” God had been preparing Joshua for the leadership of His people from the time they had left Egypt. Joshua was God’s man for the job, but he’d been in preparation all of his life. The only way to lead others is with courage and decisiveness. When standing on any Godly principle the Christian can not waver. We can not say that something is an abomination one day and another day speak the words that “it isn’t that important.” Part of courage involves standing firm even when everyone around you is speaking the opposite of what God says.
Finally, it takes trust in God and a belief that He will do what He has promised to do and knowing that God does not fail in any of His promises. Proverbs 3:5,6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” A large part of the Christian’s faith is the trust in God’s word as being true and real. This is why there are such fierce attacks on the word of God. If the adversary can get someone to believe that God didn’t actually “say” something then that is the door by which all forms of evil can enter your life. After all, when the serpent tempted Eve the first thing he got her to do was to question what God said. Courage and trust are the visible results of faith. God doesn’t call anyone to do anything without the faith to accomplish it. “above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Ephesians 6:16.