We recently launched a thirty-day devotional called Faithful: Recalling the Goodness of the Lord that features the stories of Christian women who have experienced God’s faithfulness in their lives. While it’s important to celebrate God’s faithfulness, it is just as important to be faithful to God in return. The faithfulness of God should spark faithfulness in us. However, we often struggle to be faithful to God in the secular culture we live in. Why aren’t we always faithful? There are so many different reasons: the fear of being judged, being an outcast, or the assumptions that may come with being labeled as a Christian. If you struggle with remaining faithful to God in the secular world you live in, keep reading for a list of four ways to combat this so you can be more faithful to God no matter the environment you are in.
We live in a secular world. Our secular world causes us to focus on materialism, getting our desires met, and feeling good and satisfied in ourselves. We focus on social media, the latest fashion trends, and the trips we take. It’s a lot easier to focus on the appeal of the world rather than prioritizing our faith. So how can we stay committed to our faith in a world that seems to be faithless?
The Apostle Peter has a lot to say about staying committed to one’s faith in challenging environments. In 1 Peter, he encourages Christians to stand firm in their faith even though they were facing persecution. He writes specifically to Christian exiles across the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But the letter can apply to all Christians as they are “spiritual exiles,” pursuing Christian values that society oftentimes does not.
Remember the Lord’s Faithfulness
Peter begins his letter by praising God for the blessings that have been given to the people that put their faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:3-12). He also explains how Christians should set their hope on the grace that will come in the future (1:13-2:3).
Remembering the Lord’s past faithfulness can encourage us to be faithful to Him in return. It gives us confidence in the fulfillment of His future promises. It helps us to set our hope on the grace to come in the future as Peter encouraged. If we know that God will keep His promises and we look back at how He has been faithful to us in the past, it causes us to want to do the same.
Think of a really good friend who is always there for you. Don’t you want to do the same for them? When your spouse makes you dinner or helps with chores around the house, don’t you want to give back and do something for them in return? When a family member is thoughtful and sends you a nice gift, you would want to show your appreciation somehow. When God is faithful to us, it is an appropriate response to want to be faithful right back.
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV
Know What God Says About You
Peter tells Christians that though they are rejected by humans, they are chosen by God and precious to him (1 Peter 2:4).
I’m sure many of you can relate to the fact that your faith has changed your relationship with friends and family. Maybe they assume that as a Christian you are judgmental (even though in that case they’re the ones being judgmental), or you are no fun, or uncool. I definitely did not get invited to some hangouts in college because people thought I was no fun or would judge them. Maybe your faith just makes them uncomfortable because they don’t agree with it or they’ve had a bad experience with other Christians. These things can make you feel like an outcast. What you need to remember is that the opinions of others are nowhere near as important as God’s thoughts towards you. Easier said than done right? But God says that you are loved: so much so that Christ died for you (Romans 5:8). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You are chosen (1 Peter 2:9). You are part of God’s family (1 John 3:1).
Put Faith in God Over Things
Peter urges Christians to abstain from sinful desires (1 Peter 2:11). He calls for a new way of living and he describes what godly living looks like in a pagan society.
The secular world tends to prioritize things over God. We are often bombarded with new items to buy, clothes to wear, and places to go on social media. We want new and we want exciting. I find myself getting caught up in buying new outfits and following up with the latest trends more often than I would like to admit! But it can be hard when we are surrounded with these things and it is too easy to compare ourselves to other people. We constantly set unnecessary expectations for ourselves about what we should be doing and what we should be wearing. We often focus more on these things than we focus on God. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy new clothes and you’re not allowed to care about fashion trends, but these things are always changing, whereas our God, He is never changing (James 1:17). We should be putting our focus and our hope on God more than on material things.
It helps me to remember Matthew 6:31-33:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I will admit that I love online shopping and trying new fashion trends but I swear, I am always behind! Once I have something, I feel like it’s not in style anymore. All this to say, this earthly life is temporary but we have eternal life with God. The good news is that our hope is in God. We should put our faith in him rather than on the things of this world.
Be in Community With Other Believers
Finally, Peter highlights the virtues that build and sustain community (1 Peter 3:8-12).
My friends have talked about how it is hard for them to talk about their faith at work because people aren’t interested and don’t want to hear it. This happens in social settings outside of work too. I think it is important to share the gospel and the love of Jesus with everyone, Christian or not. However, we also need other Christians around us who can encourage us in our faith (See Hebrews 10:24-25). It is important to have friends who care about your relationship with God and are willing to be honest with you. These friends can help point you to the Word and help you study the Bible. They can hold you accountable in staying faithful to God. They can remind you that although you live in a secular world, you are not alone. You have people who care and want to see you grow closer to God.
While it is important to always remember how God is faithful to us, let us remember to be faithful back. Don’t forget that you are forever loved by Him, no matter what is happening in the world outside of your relationship with Him. He is constant and unwavering. I know that it feels like it can be difficult, but I hope that these four things can make it a little easier.