Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

3 Great Reasons to Be 'Rigid' in Your Faith

  • Caroline Madison Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 13 Apr
3 Great Reasons to Be 'Rigid' in Your Faith

Compromise is something we all must learn to do at some point, whether it be with siblings, friends, or spouses; it’s part of sharing space with different people who have varying desires and opinions. 

“You have to give a little.”

“You need to be more flexible.”

“You can’t make absolute statements like that.” 

Most of us have heard these words many times. And it’s certainly important to meet in the middle on many issues of preference. Paul even writes that he has “…become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) for the purpose of sharing the gospel—a Jew to the Jews and a Gentile to Gentiles.

But how do we apply this to our Christian faith? 

Today, any determined adherence to a set of principles or beliefs is viewed as intolerant, old-fashioned, even hateful. Slapped with labels like these, it’s no wonder Christians begin to doubt the integrity of rigidity. 

Do we need to give a little? Be more flexible?

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/greenaperture

What Is Rigidity?

What Is Rigidity?

If you Google the word, you’ll see two definitions, the second of which carries that negative vibe we’re all familiar with: “inability to be changed…unwillingness to be adaptable.” This type of rigidity puts us at odds with those around us, but not in a good way. 

The first definition—“inability to be bent or be forced out of shape”—offers the example of a plant. As plants grow, they develop rigidity, which, in this sense, is the ability to stand upright against some external force. 

My fiancé, when nurturing his pepper plants to maturity, sets them in front of a small fan to encourage the development of cellulose. Gradually, they waver in the stream of air less and less; there is a notable difference between the stems that have been exposed to this “training” and those that haven’t. 

As believers, we too should be able to withstand the “winds” of cultural pressure without wavering. As Paul puts it, “Then we will no longer be infants…blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14).

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Iyan Kurnia

Scripture Establishes Rigidity as a Christian Principle

Scripture Establishes Rigidity as a Christian Principle

Of course, the most important blueprint we have for any question of faith is the Bible. God makes His expectations clear through the voice of Paul: 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Merriam-Webster defines conform this way: “to be obedient or compliant… to act in accordance with prevailing standards or customs.”

We are to resist conformity, submit to transformation, and Scripture promises that the will of God will become clear. Then, where the will of God opposes the will of people, “… ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’” (Acts 5:29).

It’s a natural, human desire to want to blend with the people around us; like chameleons, we tend to mimic the colors of our immediate environment. But, to carry the analogy through, God is asking us to blaze brightly against a canopy in shadows. There should be a stark contrast between how the world lives and how the disciples of Christ live.

“Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.’” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Benjavisa

3 Ways Jesus Is Our Example

3 Ways Jesus Is Our Example

What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? This question rose in popularity due to the publication of Charles M. Sheldon’s novel, In His Steps, in 1896. But long before Sheldon was even born, Jesus Himself established the principle of following in His footsteps:

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15)

And Paul reminds believers frequently to use Christ as the mold for their lives, walking as He walked (Colossians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2). So how did Jesus handle the cultural pressures of His time?

1. He publicly opposed those who violated God’s will (John 2:13-16).

When He discovered that the temple courts had been turned into a marketplace, He didn’t shrug and reference the changing of the times. He didn’t pass it off as a simple shift in tradition or admit that, really, the merchants were only displaying good business sense and deserved to make a profit.

John records that He “…made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts…” (John 2:15).

2. He did what was right with little regard for cultural norms.

Jesus sought out a one-on-one interaction with a Samaritan woman (John 4:4-9), crossing several boundaries in the process.

First, Jewish tradition did not allow a man to speak with a woman alone. This was such a well-established expectation that even Jesus’ disciples (who were surely accustomed to some boundary flouting at this point) were caught off guard (John 4:27). 

Second, Jews and Samaritans did not speak to each other under any circumstances (John 4:9). But Jesus had no interest in observing these “modern” societal expectations. He wanted to change her life, and the lives of those who would hear her witness.

3. He directly addressed misinterpretations of Scripture.

Jesus was frequently at odds with the reputable, well-educated crowd who knew existing Scripture backwards and forwards. He performed miracles on the sabbath with too much regularity for it to be anything less than purposeful and direct confrontation of their religious misconceptions (Mark 3; John 5; John 9; Luke 13; Luke 14).

When He healed a man’s withered hand in the synagogue, Scripture tells us that the Pharisees were watching Him. Maybe they’d even placed the man there on purpose to see what Jesus would do.

In this situation, I might have noticed the warning glares and led the man outside to heal him in an alley where no one would see. But Jesus did the opposite: He commanded the man to “…‘Stand up in front of everyone’” (Mark 3:3).

Our Savior was consistently unrelenting in His drive to love people and confront those things in His environment that opposed God’s will. That fierce boldness is the example we are commanded to follow.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Ginosphotos

The World Is Damaged by 'Flexible' Christians

The World Is Damaged by 'Flexible' Christians

So many Christians today are selling out, caving to the pressures of the world under the guise of drawing more people to Jesus. Some have good intentions; others prefer to make people happy because that’s far more comfortable than confrontation. A few believe that the idea of rigid adherence to God’s principles needs an ‘update’ to fit the modern day.

But what effect does a changeable Christian population have on those around them? 

At best, a lack of rigidity means we blend in, never making waves or standing out in any way. Have you ever played Spot the Difference? The most challenging versions of that puzzle make the variations between the two pictures as inconspicuous as possible—so inconspicuous, in fact, that I often can’t find them. 

If there are no discernible differences between us and nonbelievers (how we talk, what we wear, what we support, how we entertain ourselves), then the impact we have on the world is also indiscernible. 

At worst, a lack of rigidity means we violate God’s commands, claiming the name of Christ while indulging in or allowing activities that the Bible clearly condemns. Not only does this grieve the Lord, it also makes Christianity something to sneer at. How can we expect anyone to follow a way of life that we can’t be bothered to adhere to with any determination? 

We need rigidity—the “cellulose” of the Christian life that allows us to stand on solid ground while the earth around us pitches violently. We need that certain hope, sweet assurance, and absolute confidence that is meant to draw seekers of the truth to us. We need to refuse to bend in matters of God’s truth, even if it provokes hostility (as Jesus promised it would in John 15:19). 

Do not let the world’s cries of “intolerance” dictate how firmly you stand on the truth. If you rely on God, He will fill you with strength and courage, just as He did the disciples. Courage that can stand seemingly alone against overwhelming resistance and shout “My heart, O God, is steadfast…” (Psalm 57:7).

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/JeremyBishop

Caroline Madison is a freelance editor and writer with a passion for the written word and a special interest in telling and reading stories that present biblical truths in fresh ways. She also enjoys writing flash fiction, drawing pencil portraits, and playing piano.

Follow Crosswalk.com