Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
Hollow, a silhouette, symbolic, vain, and social. These are all words that could well describe our Christian faith in the West (and the U.S. specifically). I came across this story today on-line:
“Woodrow Kroll of Back to the Bible says a new survey shows biblical illiteracy is one of the biggest problems facing the Church in America. According to the Christian ministry president, research shows that the average American owns three copies of the Bible, but doesn’t read any of them.” 
Not convinced we have a problem on our hands? Read this:
“[T]wo-thirds of Americans believe that the Bible holds the answers to all or most of life’s basic questions. Yet, only half of the adults in this country can name one of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and most Americans do not know the first book in the Bible (Genesis).” 
Three bibles. Many can’t even name the four gospels or the first book of the Bible- unbelievable. While people all around the world thirst (and bear beatings, torture, and murder to receive God’s word) we have an abundance of Bibles and show little to no interest in reading them. Much less do we seem interested in living a biblical and Christ centered lifestyle.
Earlier I described our belief in this country as hollow, a silhouette, symbolic, vain, and social. And in this day it has become as much for many believers who not only sit in pews, but those who hold positions within the church. I am not qualified to judge people individually on this ground, that is something each of us must do introspectively and retrospectively guided by God’s word and thoughtful prayer.
That being said, I would like to present what might be the single most common reason why our beliefs have become hollow, symbolic, and vain in many instances.
Compromise– We are quick to avoid confrontation, like Peter following Christ (after his arrest) to the home of the High Priest. But instead of outright denying any knowledge of Christ (like Peter) we simply deny the biblical Christ in favor of a Christ more friendly to the world (and the true Bible in favor of a worldly scripture). There are many reasons for this compromise: avoiding confrontation, a lack of knowledge, seeking worldly acceptance, rationalization that a more PC Christ will draw more people to the Church, etc.
Whatever our reasons, all too often we compromise Christ or His word in order live an easier life- a life free from serious disputes with the world around us. I can tell you from experience that a life of uncompromising acceptance of the scriptures isn’t easy. It is downright hard. The world will call you foolish and stupid, many will hate you for what you believe. It won’t be an easy road.
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” Romans 1:20-22.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19.
Now I would ask you to look to your own life. Where have you compromised? Do you retreat in horror when the topic of evolution and creationism rears it head? Do you remain silent when the issue of homosexuality within the church is a part of the conversation? Do you quietly abide while others talk about the many paths that lead to God? Did you do any of these things because a thorough search of scripture convinced you they were correct, or did you do these things because you felt uncomfortable (or simply wanted the world to be more comfortable with you).
I can tell you that such a look into your own heart is profitable and beneficial to your walk. How do I know? I was a compromising Christian at one point in my life. My own problem wasn’t a lack of knowledge, but a fear of being ridiculed by my peers and mentors in the academic world.
“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:25-26.
If Christ expects me to die for my beliefs, how can I be so weak as to compromise them just to gain acceptance? If believers around the world are willing to die for Christ, why can’t I simply endure the scorn of my peers?
After all this inward searching, I learned that Jesus was right when He said, “if you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” I compromised Christ so much that the world accepted and loved me, and in the process I lost my love for Christ. The world was glad to accept me as long as I embraced it’s desires and repudiated those aspects of Christianity that it found offensive. But when I changed, when I embraced Christ fully, I found my reception was much different. Threats, slurs, and intimidation are but a few of the responses of this world those who won’t compromise their firm faith in Christ.
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 10:22.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 24:12-13.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.
“[I]t is by faith you stand firm.” 2 Corinthians 1:24.
Love Christ because of what He has done, love Him for who he is, or love him because He first loved you. Whatever the reason, know why you believe what you believe. And be ready to respond to those who question your faith.