Standing in Community
“Thank you, and here is your change.”
“But sir, you have given me too much change. Here, this is yours.”
“You are right. You are an honest man! There are not many people who would do that!”
“But I am a Christian, and the Bible teaches that we must always be honest!”
You probably have had an experience similar to this. Has a storekeeper ever shown surprise when you earned extra change that he gave you by mistake? Or have you in some other way shown a high Christian principle, when you could have done otherwise? This is an example of showing a true spirit of community. You were taking a stand for honesty.
In this lesson we will see what it means to take a stand. When we always stand for what is right, no matter what happens, we are standing in community.
Standing and the Word of God
Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil trick (Ephesians 6:11).
The Bible gives us this illustration of a soldier standing against an enemy, dressed in the armor provided by God.
What does it mean to stand? Does it mean just being against something, or does it also mean being for something? In most cases the Bible encourages us to take a stand against certain things. Certainly, when we are Christians we will be in favor of godly things. We will want to do what is right. To stand firm or fast means to obey God’s will, as you have learned from the Scriptures. In some situations, you may have to stand against something that is wrong.
In the Scripture quoted above, we are told to put on God’s armor. Armor in the military sense is metal clothing worn for protection. Notice that we are told why we should put on God’s armor: “ . . . so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.” We are not to be fooled by him.
God’s armor is given to you for your protection. Paul mentions every piece of armor to illustrate how completely prepared you are to fight the enemy. The armor is for protection so that you can stand firm. This means that you will not deny what you believe.
Standing fast is being firm. It is deciding that a bad act or teaching will not influence your life. It is putting into practice good acts or teachings that will strengthen your Christian life.
We could illustrate this kind of action by a good Christian habit going to church. You just know that when it is time to go to church to worship the Lord, you will do so. You do not have to decide this over and over. It is already the pattern for your life. For you it is the natural thing to do.
However, some situations in life call for standing against something. “And after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground. So stand ready. . . ” (Ephesians 6:13-14).
In Daniel 3, we read that the king built a statue and said that all the people in Babylon should bow down and worship it. Three young men refused. Even after they were told that the penalty was that they would be thrown into a furnace, or oven, they would not change their action. The king became very angry. He had the fi re in the furnace made hotter than ever before. The young men had taken a stand and refused to change it. They were thrown into the furnace. It seemed like certain death.
However, God did not let them die. He kept them from burning, which greatly amazed the king and his court. He called the young men out and said to them, “There is no other god who can rescue like this” (Daniel 3:29). These young men had taken a stand. They did not care what happened. They would not bow down and worship a false god. They were willing to burn rather than to bow. Do you have that kind of determination to serve God? Because these young men took a stand, the king and his people saw the great power of God and were amazed!
Your faith must be from the heart. You must have a desire to serve God more than anything else. When your friends see your spirit of community and your firm stand for what is right, they will respect you, and they will be aware of God’s power in your life. When some practice would cause you to deny a part of your Christianity, make a decision to stand firm for what is right!
Standing and Tradition
A tradition is a belief or custom handed down from one generation to another. Although it is not always written down, it is very important to the members of the community. Many traditions are good and useful. They help people to remember their past. Other traditions are wrong for Christians. There may be times when traditions would lead us to do something that the Bible teaches against. At such times, we must take a stand for what is right.
For example, in some parts of the world relatives who have died many years ago are highly respected. This is not in itself a bad thing. We should remember with respect our relatives who have died. But we should not respect them to the point of worshiping them. When we worship our ancestors, we are disobeying God’s Word. In Exodus 20:3, God said, “Worship no god but me.” Those who have died have lived their lives and gone. We must leave them with God. Now we should live in such a way that we are sure of our own spiritual condition when we face death.
In some Latin American countries it is the custom to honor young people when they turn 15 years old. Usually a party is given to celebrate the occasion. However, many times things take place at these celebrations which are not pleasing to God.
José was a Christian. His daughter would soon have her fifteenth birthday. It was customary for men in his position to have a big party for such an occasion, and José’s daughter would be disappointed if the party were not held. José rented a suitable place and invited a Christian singing group to entertain the guests. The evening was a great success. José’s daughter was happy, and a Christian witness was shown. This was José’s way of using a tradition as a Christian testimony.
Standing and Regulations
Governments, rulers, and authorities are given to us by God. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we are instructed to pray for those who are in authority over us. As we pray for them, God will help them to be a blessing.
The Bible also teaches us to honor and obey the laws our rulers make. We are told in Titus 3: 1 “to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey them, and to be ready to do good in every way.” A Christian will obey government regulations even if he or she personally disagrees with them, unless they are contrary to Christian teaching and oppose God’s Word.
Governments must decide which days are official holidays. Many holidays are connected with the religions of a country. Sometimes celebrations will be for days that are not special for Christians. Do not allow this to bother you. You can honor God every day of the year. When these holidays come along, take the opportunity to rest and thank the Lord for shedding His light into your heart.
In some areas, holidays provide special opportunities for the Christian. People are in the streets and they will read gospel literature. If you are allowed to do so in your area, use these holidays to give out literature and witness to people who need Christ. It may even be possible to preach the Word in public places, if you are permitted to do so. Turn non-Christian days into workdays for the Lord!
Sometimes we may need to adjust our plans or schedules to meet government requirements. For example, in one country the government is making a practice of having political functions on Sunday mornings. Attendance is required for everyone. The churches must cooperate. What can the churches do in this case? God is not limited to being worshiped on Sundays. Most of the churches have a Saturday evening service. In this way Christians obey the law and still have a special time to worship the Lord.