Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

It's tempting to romanticize the history of Christianity, painting St. Peter and St. Paul as unyielding leaders who built the Christian Church in a smooth and straightforward process. However, a deeper dive into their trials reveals a strenuous journey filled with hardships and resilience. It's these struggles that today's Christian dissidents can learn from as they grapple with declining Christian influence on seven societal “mountains”: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government.

Today, the reality is that on these mountains, society has become increasingly hostile toward Christians. This shift has led many Christians and conservatives to adopt a defeatist mentality, retreating to the relative safety of like-minded communities. While this strategy may offer temporary solace, it isn't a long-term solution. Christians are called not to seek a safe haven, but to be salt and light in the world.

When we surrender in despair, we are not merely giving up on politics, but on God. The words of Christ and the apostles assure us that the Church and Christianity will prevail, and it's upon this promise we should stand firm. Christ guaranteed victory, but he did not promise it would come without hardship and penance.

The apostles questioned why evil was allowed to persist, and so do we. Yet the Lord's response in Deuteronomy 13 is profound: “The Lord your God is testing you to see whether you really love Him with all your heart.” Acknowledging this reality is the first step toward a resilient Christian response. The next steps involve humility, unity, and strategic engagement. We need to confront the stark reality of our societal standing. We are entering what we might call a new apostolic era, in which we need to become missionaries to our own increasingly post-Christian society.

Consider the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers must face the fact that they are not the majority. Self-serving communication aimed at current donors is not what is needed. Rather, what we need is to make the case for the protection of the unborn to an audience that’s not already with us. We need to take up space in culture—not just inside our safe spaces.

In this new apostolic era, the pro-life movement must acknowledge that the average person is now told almost daily that life does not begin at conception and that abortion is perfectly normal. It’s a bad strategy to hope the electorate and politicians will deliver wins for the pro-life movement in blue states if the general public is becoming more pro-abortion. Lila Rose at Live Action should be given credit for regularly going on secular shows, podcasts, and popular panels, showing us how to proclaim the message in a way that wins converts. May her courage inspire others.

A second strategy lies in promoting Christian influencers—athletes, media personalities, and local leaders who can inspire others with their faith. Films like The Chosen and Jesus Revolution are testaments to the power of faith-based media. These films have out-performed all expectations at the box office.

Lastly, Christians should focus on achievable victories by building solid organizations and political infrastructure at the local level. Anti-Christian politicians have strategically taken over local institutions such as school boards and municipal governments. We too can recruit, train, and elect competent leaders to roles in these institutions—people who will offer our neighbors a vision of a community safe from crime and government-enforced social engineering, and a world of economic prosperity.

Much like St. Paul on his missionary journeys, we will encounter hostility or even persecution, but we must remain resolute. Paul's trials serve as a guide for our Christian journey today. As the church shifts into this new apostolic mode, his teachings and resilience remind us that our faith is not built on convenience, but conviction.

Alex Kharam is executive director of the Freedom Club.

First Things depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

Click here to make a donation.

Click here to subscribe to First Things.

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.

Tags

Loading...

Filter Web Exclusive Articles

Related Articles