Here’s a sobering thought. What if all the earthly/social benefits of being a Christian were stripped away? Would we still believe?
At least for me, that’s a tough question, because I live in West Texas. You know, Bible Belt country. I am surrounded by Christians.
My parents are Christians. My siblings are Christians. My grandparents are Christians. My boss is Christian. The dozen or so co-workers in my office are all Christians. Most of my friends are Christians. Even most of my lawn-mowing customers are Christians. And of course, the wonderful people I fellowship with at our little chapel here in Lubbock are Christians. Around here, non-Christians are harder to find than Christians.
Perhaps you can relate. Perhaps you are surrounded by Christians too.
What if we suddenly walked away from the Christian faith? What would happen? I don’t know about you, but for me, socially, the results would be disastrous. It would put a serious strain on my familial relationships. It would jeopardize many of my closest friendships. It would even be frowned on by my co-workers.
The point is this: in my current stage of life, being a Christian is socially advantageous. I enjoy much social support and positive reinforcement for being a Christian. The benefits are many; the downsides are few. And so, with that in mind, walking away from Christianity would be foolish, because I could lose many of these communal benefits.
Which leads me to wonder: If the earthly benefits of being a Christian were stripped away, would I still believe? If all these nice things I mentioned suddenly vanished, would my faith be affected? What if being a Christian was socially frowned upon? What if my friends and parents stopped supporting my faith? Would my faith be as strong as it is today? Would I be any less outspoken about my beliefs?
Friends, I pray that our faith isn’t just a shtick, shallow and disingenuous. I pray that our spiritual foundation is based on a real relationship with God, not on any social perks we happen to enjoy. I pray that even if we experienced open, hostile, consistent resistance to the faith, we would still gladly bear the name of Christ.
I pray that if all earthly benefits associated with being a Christian were stripped away, we would still believe.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. | James 1:2-3