Fortitude :: By John Lysaught

John 15:18-19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

The world hates believers of Christ. Sure, there are some who just despise us, there are those who don’t agree with us, and there are those who are indifferent. Regardless, though, if the world is not of Christ, then they hate us by default because they don’t believe in the Truth we know and hold so dearly that we would be willing to give all for His name’s sake, even unto death.

Satan is the one behind this hate of us from this world. He wants to be God, but he is merely a fallen angel who opposed God. He is the root of evil in this world, and those who don’t follow Christ bow down to him as their leader. Even those who believe in God but don’t accept Christ are bowing down to Satan and follow the sinful path to destruction versus accepting the saving grace offered through Christ.

These people are blinded by Satan’s ways and don’t know the path of destruction they are on. They don’t heed the call of Christ to their innermost beings but hold tight to the world and the things of the world that satisfy their sinful natures. In their minds, the future is what they make of it, the desires of the world taking hold of their hearts and pulling them away from the draw of Christ.

Nonbelievers don’t want to surrender themselves to the will of God through Christ Jesus. To surrender self means to give up their fleshly desires that keep them grounded in the world and not to Christ. What they don’t understand is that by not surrendering to Christ, they have surrendered their souls to the evil one and his dominion. They believe self is more important and put their trust not in Jesus, but in the ways of the world, relying not on Christ but on the ways of the world for their perceived joy, sustainment, and future.

Eternity is an afterthought to the people of the world. They live in the now, and the future can wait another day. Destiny is what they make, for they are the gods of their own lives with no room in their hearts for God, who truly loves and cares for them, who always is reaching out to them with welcoming arms if only they come to Him through belief and faith in Jesus.

We who live by faith in Christ’s sacrifice and promise of Heaven through our belief, trust, and faith in His death and resurrection can have it pretty hard in this ungodly world. To do this, we must have fortitude in our Lord and Savior Jesus to help us stand firm through the trials and tribulations that the world puts us through and tries to snare us with because they want us to be like them.

Those of the world hate us for believing Christ is the only way to the Father, as Jesus told us in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” They barrage us with evil words, shunning us, and trying to trip us up for knowing that Christ is the way to heaven and to having a loving relationship with our Father, who sent Christ as a baby to grow and eventually be our sacrifice for our sins, to make a way for us to have that relationship with Him. It takes fortitude on our behalf to resist and stand firm in the truth of our faith.

To have fortitude means not bending in our faith and belief of what beckons us to draw nearer to God.  It means standing up to others who oppose and try to lead us asunder from each other and our faith in Christ to lead and help navigate us through this world as we run the race for the reward of Heaven as our finish line.

When we meet adversity from our loved ones, coworkers, strangers, and yes, even weak professors of faith, we need to hold fast and not bend regarding our faith. We are not to try to smooth out relationships through compromise of our faith – or negating the importance of Christ in our lives and the truth he represents to us – to just save a relationship or to avoid hard discussions with others regarding the truth of Jesus. We must stand strong.

We live in a society where we are not to hurt other’s feelings and to not say things that would offend others, unless it is against our faith. People can say vile things outright or through vague comments to harass believers to keep us silent or to cause us to back down from our stance on truth. They tell us we are bigots, racists, haters, old-fashioned, and believe in a god that is uncaring or doesn’t exist. They tell us times have changed and the Bible and our faith is irrelevant to the world we live in now.

With such adversity facing us, it is no wonder that there are those who do keep silent and practice our faith in secret. It takes fortitude to not back down. It takes assurance in our faith and standing with Christ to face those who want to put forth disparaging language to shut us up, to try to make us cower in their arrogant misbeliefs of the truth of the Word of God and His saving Son. To cower to the bullies does not make us victims, but makes us seem weak in our walk with Christ and not fully committed to Him and His truth. We need fortitude to stand up to them.

It doesn’t matter how new or mature a believer is to have fortitude in Christ. It doesn’t matter if you have memorized verses or barely know the Word.  Having fortitude is not an exercise of knowledge of the Word; it is the knowledge of the saving grace of Christ. Whether one has known Jesus for an hour or decades, fortitude in Jesus is found in the heart, and it takes courage to oppose the opposition of the world that wants to destroy us through words and actions.