When we hope we look forward to something with confidence or expectation of its attainment[1] Something that is hoped for is almost never a negative or bad thing, but something that will in some way enrich our lives; Captives hope for freedom, drunk men for libations, poor men for some cash, and weak men for power. There is not a man who lives without some hope- for once hope has departed life soon follows. It is what men hope in that defines them, and is the measure of their desires and character.

When Simeon of Antioch the stylite (388-459) stood upon a pillar twenty meters high and two meters wide for thirty-six years with very little sitting or lying down- preferring to bind himself to a pole so he could sleep standing- he certainly had an incredible amount of hope in something.[2] Then saint Simeon Stylites the younger (521-597) came along and sat upon a similar pillar for almost twice as long- sixty-eight years.[3] These men are two examples out of many men and women who devoted (although I would argue in a flawed interpretation of Christ’s commands) their life to God in the best way they knew- and should elicit some degree of respect for their resolve. If only modern Christians had the same resolve of these men to stand by their convictions with strength.

Would a modern Christian submit himself to such severe deprivation for the sake of his Lord? Would a modern Christian deny himself the pleasures of the world? I said earlier these men were flawed in their thoughts, I say such because they separated themselves from the world entirely- living apart the anchorite lifestyle. Yet, to endure such deprivation, such pain, such discomfort (imagine the blazing Arabian sun in Syria burning down directly on you for thirty-six years) was a task that could not be completed without a sure and certain hope. A hope that transcended the flesh and it’s base desires.

Now, over 1,600 years later, what is our hope? Where is the evidence of our hope in God, in Christ, and in God’s word? It is easily understood how we could not endure the life of a anchorite or stylite, but how much discomfort would we endure for Christ? Would you be willing to lose your family?[4] Would you be willing to be hated by the world for the sake of Christ?[5] Would you be willing to endure imprisonment?[6] Would you be willing to die for Him?[7]

We must all answer these question for ourselves. But as best I can guess, many believers will turn away due to the hardship. For today few in our nation suffer imprisonment, torture, abandonment, or death for their Lord- as believers in other parts of the world currently endure courageously. Could we as believers in America endure as much? I doubt it.

I doubt because so many of us are already too concerned with the way the world, our neighbors, and the media view us that we compromise scripture to avoid being stereotyped as a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian. We avoid confrontation on those parts of our beliefs and scripture that we are unable to defend, conceding ourselves into a more limited form of Christianity. A Christianity that isn’t defined by God or His word, but by man and his views- or his scorn of us as believers.

But why lay our trust and hope in men? Why value their opinions above those of the Lord? The great apostle writes, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”[8] As believers we are admonished to, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”[9] But are all our thoughts obedient to Christ? Or have we adopted the wisdom of the world because we are ashamed of our perceived foolishness?

There is a simple equation that explains why we should not trust secular men to dictate our views as Christians. That equation is: No God = No Hope. If our secular friends win in persisting us they are right, if there is no God of the creation, no redeeming death of Christ from the fall, and no judgment and eternal life for the believer- then there is no hope. Men great enough to build pyramids currently slumber in museums and under the ancient sands of the Egyptian deserts, but their power, wealth, and privilege mean nothing to their rotting (or preserved) bodies. They know no thought, no judgment, no pain- only a constant void of existence. A similar fate finds kings and jesters, CEO’s and janitors, doctors and carneys.

We are free to hope in man all we want, but in man we will always find death. For even should man discover how to live 200, 1000, or even 10,000 more years he would still ultimately find the cold visage of death awaits him at the end of his journey. We will all discover at the final judgment that death is the result of sin and its entrance into our world. For as Paul writes that by one man sin entered this world, so by one man (Christ) we will be freed from sin.[10]

So we should never be ashamed to espouse our full and unfettered faith to friends, family, and strangers.[11, 12] For Christ is not ashamed of us when He stands before the Father to present our case as our great defender.[13] For when through a fear of shame before man we compromise our hope and faith in Christ and His creation- we show the world we respect them more than we do our own Lord. What image does that give unbelievers of our church, our faith, and our certainty in salvation?

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Comments
  1. satisfiedhousewife says:

    TT,
    Amen. This is my kind of post! I have been feeling like this for a few weeks now, and the “comforts” of life in America are becoming actually detestable to me! If it were up to me and I was single without children, I would give it all up, live as basically as I could, and give all my time and money to God’s work. I don’t even care about things in this world anymore, and the only thing I care about is pleasing God. I know I am still a work in progress and I have lots to grow in, but my desire and will is to serve the Lord 100%, not looking back. My hope of Heaven and being with my Lord and my God for eternity is enough for me to endure whatever.

    I just finished an 18 page letter that I am going to send to every single family member I have, as well as friends and old bosses that I used to know. Basically anyone I can get a hold of that I had known in my past. I am apologizing for being a phony hypocrite and mis-representing a Holy God to them. I was not in the place I should have been then, and I need to present the Gospel to them the right way, and give my testimony in full, to show them how wrong I was then to live in compromise. I know 18 pages is long, but I want to be able to “deliver my soul” as Ezekiel states, being able to make sure I have told everyone in my life the truth in love. I am risking a lot – my family may hate me, and think I’m weird or crazy, but I don’t care. As long as God will accept me and forgive me and be my Lord, and make me pleasing in His sight, that’s all I care about now! I love being in His presence, and I can’t keep my mouth shut about the truth to my family and friends. I can’t imagine being in Heaven, seeing them crying, being sentenced to Hell, and pointing at me, saying, “Why didn’t you warn me! Why didn’t you tell me the truth!” They won’t be able to say that about me now.

    Thanks for an awesome post, and sorry for my “long-windedness”! LOL

    Jen

  2. I love your comments, so no need to apologize for “long-windedness”.

  3. faithwalk says:

    Thank you for a good post JK, I do have such a burden for the western church. The love of the world is insidious, creeping it’s way into our heart and mind without us even realizing it.

    I had no idea how deeply ingrained my security was in the things of this world until we gave it all up and boy what an adjustment.
    It gets easier as the further away we are from living according to the pattern of this world ( and the church ) the clearer it becomes, but it wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say living by faith still has it’s challenges.
    But God truly is faithful in and through it all.

    Jesus, please help us to see through your eyes, and have your heart…

    Blessings to you always, in Jesus love and grace,

    Susan

  4. faithwalk says:

    And yes, Without God there truly is no hope…
    but because of Christ we have more than just hope, we have eternal life.
    We are so blessed.

  5. Thanks for the great comments.

    “I do have such a burden for the western church”

    I wish we all did. The western church is in as grave a spiritual danger as the eastern church is in physical danger. And only one type of danger has eternal consequences.

  6. Excellent post and so true! My husband and I are trying to plant a church and this is one of the things we want to be different about our church. We don’t want to be so worried about what people will think or whether or not we are being “politically correct” that we forget how we are supposed to live as followers of Christ. What God thinks is all that matters – it matters not what the world thinks!

  7. My church is also a church plant- we joined about three years in. If you want to check out the church you can visit the website at http://www.hollandcommunitychurch.org/

  8. faithwalk says:

    You got that right; the eastern church is actually in far better shape.
    Though the prosperity gospel is wreaking havoc in Africa and everywhere that satellite images of gold thrones, big hair and “gimme your money so God can make you rich” preachers influence pastors in impoverished nations, setting the stage for a mass rejection of Christianity.. And Islam is waiting in the wings, licking it’s chops as we self destruct.

    May the Lord have mercy on us all and help us to be REAL!

  9. faithwalk says:

    Wow, did I just say that? sorry!

  10. Which part? I didn’t see anything objectionable.

  11. satisfiedhousewife says:

    lol Susan….you remind me so much of me sometimes! I agree with you – the properity false gospel is decieving so many people and leading them astray. I remember hearing from the late Leonard Ravenhill that John Wesley died with only his preaching robe, a set of silverware, his Bible and…his church! Millions of dollars went through his hands for the work of the Gospel, but he knew better than to keep it to himself! Imagine the rewards he has in Heaven!

    Imagine the impact these “prosperity” preachers could have on the world if they took the same mindset as Wesley. In my opinion, it is like giving God “what’s left”, not the firstfruits. These people “give” to missions, etc., but they hold on to too much, but justify themselves because they give a LITTLE.

    I guess as long as they give their little “10%” God thinks it’s okay to keep the other 4 million, right? Hmmmm……

  12. Not to mention the frauds (I won’t mention anyone in particular) that set up false charities and procede to use God to raise money for them- knowing it will only line their own pockets. This also doesn’t even mention the countless number of fake healers.

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Matt. 7:21-23

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