“Saints In A Strange Setting”

By Randy Harshbarger

Because of trying circumstances of life, some Christians grow tired of living the kind of life God desires; their despair sometimes leads them to give up all together. Because of persecution, peer pressure, lack of faith, opposition of family, etc., some Christians think it is impossible to fight the good fight and remain faithful to the end. Of course, this problem is not new. Christians of the first century were plagued with some of the same obstacles that present themselves to Christians of the twentieth century.

Paul, and the Christians he was associated with at Phlippi, present a good example of this. In the book of Philipians, Paul suggests to us, that one can be a Christian regardless of the circumstances in life. He closes the book by saying: “Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you. All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (4:21-23). Paul addresses this letter to the “saints” at Philippi. A saint is a person who has been set apart or consecrated to the Lord. All who have obeyed the gospel have been set apart in Christ. With faith in Christ and His word, we can remain faithful, even in the face of opposition. The Christians at Philippi demonstrated this. The Caesars were not known for their spirituality. They did not appreciate Christianity. Nero and other Roman kings were avowed enemies of Christ and His church. And yet, these Christians in Caesar’s household were able to remain faithful; they even demonstrated love and concern for those in other places.

Other examples of those who had to stand alone in the midst of opposition come to mind. Joseph, who at the hand of ungodly brothers, was sold into Egyptian slavery. He was forced to serve at the feet of a man who had contempt for the God of heaven. Joseph was tempted to commit adultery by the enticement of an ungodly woman. He seemed to suffer for the right he tried to do. But the main thing we need to remember about Joseph is this: he did not lose God’s respect! What about the three Hebrew boys who were thrown into the fiery furnace? Surely they had the right to say: “Well, everybody else is doing it!” Consider Daniel, who faced certain death in the lion’s den. He stood and faced the crowd with “open windows.” All of these men took their religion with them.

There are, of course, some Saints in Caesar’s household today. Sometimes, in the home or family relationship, one mate is faithful to God and faces an uphill battle in order to remain faithful. Often an ungodly companion presents strong pressure to give up and in. Paul believed that women could be faithful in spite of their unfavorable circumstances (1 Cor. 7:12-14). Peter suggests the same thing; in fact, she can use her life to convert her husband (1 Pet. 3:1-3). Many times Christians have to work with those who curse, swear, etc. Sometimes the pressure to drink alcoholic beverages is strong. And yet, there are those who withstand this type of pressure and harassment. Men and women in military service are exposed to many temptations. Yet, Cornelius was a military man and who could deny that he -was dedicated to God. Young people are tempted with pressure to conform. Pressure of peers to dance, engage in drug abuse, and illicit sex is strong. And yet, young people also have a responsibility to live right before God and man. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of fife, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

We thrill at the triumphs of faith that Daniel, Joseph, and Paul furnish us. Their examples tell us that we too can remain faithful, even in the midst of severe opposition and unfavorable circumstances. We can do right if the determination is strong enough. “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.”

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 20, p. 618
October 20, 1983