As believers, we are facing crazy times. We live in a divisive culture where sin is normalized and even celebrated. We often hear that these times are “unprecedented.” But God’s people living in a pagan land is nothing new. The entire Bible is filled with these scenarios, from Moses in Egypt to the prophets exiled in Babylon to the New Testament church living under Roman rule.
God’s Word is clear about how His people are to live in troubling times. While the world is pressing for conformity by all, God tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). But how do we do that? How do we stand firm in our faith instead of either blending in or lashing out? 2 Timothy 2:24-26 can serve as our litmus test. God’s people are not to be combative, but to be kind and to correct their opponents with gentleness. To expand on that, here are 10 ways to remain uncompromised in today’s cancel culture:
1. Speak the Truth in Love
God instructs us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). It is important that our speech contains both of those components: truth and love.
Truth without love is a nuisance. If we are proclaiming truth but not doing so in a loving way, we are just noise (1 Corinthians 13:1). We are just another voice in the echo chamber, stirring up dissent with no regard to the reaction. When we speak the truth, we need to do so out of love for the benefit of those who have been led astray. We must not be quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24-25)¬, but instead be loving, kind, gentle, peaceful, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23).
Love without truth is negligence. We live in a “you do you,” “live your truth” culture where we are told to accept and celebrate each individual’s personal choices without discretion. But if we allow someone who is actively barreling towards hell to continue in their ways without speaking up, how can we claim to love them (1 Corinthians 13:6, Proverbs 24:11)? We are not being loving when we withhold truth; we are being negligent.
2. Live the Truth in Love
In other words, make sure you walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Society may vehemently disagree with your point of view, but they should never be able to disparage what you do (1 Peter 2:12). Be recklessly kind. Be abundantly generous. Live in such a way that, on the day of judgment, those who rejected Christ could say that you lived in a loving, godly way among them and always sought to point them toward God with your actions.
3. Focus on Faithfulness not Followers
Remaining firm in our faith in this fallen world is not a popularity contest … which is good, because we would lose. Today’s culture is obsessed with acclaim and approval: how many followers we have on social media, how many friends we have in our circle, how many people we have in our churches. But God is not concerned about pleasing the crowd. The gospel is not a popular message. Jesus tells us that many will reject it, and the number of people who will trust in Him for eternal life are few (Matthew 7:13-14). Be faithful, regardless of how people respond. Seek God’s approval rather than the approval of man (Galatians 1:10).
4. Prepare to be Persecuted
Don’t be surprised or discouraged when you face persecution – if you follow Christ, the Bible tells us to expect it (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus came to earth not to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34), which means belief in Him will be divisive. Some people will hate you for it. You may even get “canceled.” But thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. God says we are blessed when we are persecuted, and we should rejoice, because our reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).
5. Understand Suffering is Sanctifying
Suffering is bad, but it’s not bad for us (James 1:2-4). The finest steel goes through the hottest fires. When we are persecuted and suffer for Christ, we are being sanctified, strengthened, and refined (Romans 5:3-5).
6. Grieve Over Sin
Lot, who otherwise was not the best role model in the Bible, was called righteous because he was distressed by the wickedness around him (2 Peter 2:7). Are we righteously grieved over sin or are we just grumbling about it? Are we longing for the salvation of sinners? We’re not to be known for bemoaning the bad news but proclaiming the good news. Some of us are so caught up in grumbling that our grieving is not moving us to gospel.
7. Win Souls, Not Arguments
Never be content to win the argument and lose the relationship. No angry back-and-forth comment thread on social media is going to win people to the gospel; you may be right, but if you don’t deliver the truth with love (see number 1), you may harden someone’s heart to Christ altogether. We are called not to win arguments, but to win souls (Proverbs 11:30).
8. Forsake Friendly Fire
While the world is waging war against believers, believers are turning against each other over matters of opinion. We have to stop condemning and quarreling over nonessential issues of the conscience and instead support each other (Romans 14:1-4).
9. Do Something
We need to quit grumbling, quit sitting on the sidelines and do something. We are ambassadors for God who are supposed to be embedded in and influencing the culture. We should not just be watching news clips, shouting online, and fretting about the state of the world. If we want change to happen, we need to prayerfully vote, run for office, go to school board meetings, enlist in the military, become police officers, become OBGYNs and influence a medical board about the value of life, disciple our children or disciple other people’s children. Our doctrine and our lives are inseparable – we can’t just sit in our rooms with our beliefs and not live them out (1 Timothy 4:16).
10. Hold on to God’s Truth
Hold on to the truth of God’s Word and the hope that is before us. This world can be disheartening, but it is temporary (2 Timothy 3:1-17). So hold on. Remain uncompromised. And remember that Jesus told us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”