In the English Standard Version of the Bible, at least nine times we are told to “stand firm.” The implication is that there is battle to be enjoined and there should be no thought of running. The metaphor makes sense, to stand firm in a battle in Biblical times would make the difference between life and death. The soldier’s weapons only protect him when he is facing the enemy. To turn his back would be suicide.
In 21st Century America, it is right for Christians to reach out to the increasingly larger unbelieving segment of the population. However, to do so, there is temptation to accommodate the teaching of the church to popular wisdom to broaden the church’s appeal. There is pressure to run from what are seen as controversial or antiquated teachings of Christianity. This we cannot do, we must stand firm on the clear teaching of Scripture regardless of the pressure brought to bear by the culture at large.
When things get difficult I am tempted to run. When trouble comes, I want to question whether I am following God’s will. When it’s hard, I am tempted to find a smoother road. It is easier to run somewhere else than to stand on conviction and face the consequences.
I am tempted to run when criticism comes my way. I am likely to run away from my sense of what is right and best, in order to keep people happy. Yet, the best course of action is to stand firm in my conviction while being open to hearing from God.
The statements and commands regarding standing firm are evidence to me that I am not alone in this struggle. So for the benefit of all of us who are tempted to run, here are some of the times we are told to stand firm in the New Testament:
- 1 Corinthians 16:13– Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong
- Galatians 5:1– For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore . . .
- Ephesians 6:13– Therefore take up the whole armor of God . . . . to stand firm
- Philippians 4:1– stand firm thus in the Lord
- 2 Thessalonians 2:15– stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us
- 1 Peter 5:12 – Stand firm in [the true grace of God']
My job is to stand, even when it is scary or difficult to do so. Based on these Scriptures, I believe that running is not an option.
Fortunately, there are two things on which I can rely as I seek to stand firm. The first is the Holy Spirit who is given to us to provide wisdom and strength. The second is Scripture which provides guidance and certainty as to God’s revealed will.
With these two sources of certainty, I can aspire to emulate Martin Luther when he said:
I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen