How to Respond When Your Faith is Attacked
Christians in America are not beheaded for our faith in Jesus but persecution extends beyond martyrdom to include harassment, insults, discrimination.
Jesus acknowledged this when he said,
Matt. 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Accordingly, blessed are you whenever you are targeted, hassled, or sued for practicing your faith; when students are shamed for sharing your faith on campus. Blessed are you when someone on Facebook attacks you because you post a bible verse that refutes one of their sacred tenets; when companies refuse to hire you for your stance in Christ; when your boss forbids you from talking about Christ; or when political leaders, famous people, or Twitter derogatorily label believers anti-choice, anti-science, or transphobic or backwards or bigots because we champion God’s design—these are forms of attack, persecution. If we don’t see the blessing of it, it’ll keep us silent.
And the way things are trending, this will become more and more common.
So expect it. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you… A slave is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…" (John 15:18-20)
So how are we to respond when our faith is attacked?
The answer is NOT to be silent! It is not to keep mum about Jesus, how to be forgiven, or where they can discover infinite worth, perfect love, eternal life.
The darkest forces in the world want our silence but people the world over need to hear God’s message. We are not called to be silent but to share the good news, wherever we go (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Thess. 1:6-9).
While being public with our faith may result in attacks on our faith, persecution, our goal and purpose is not to avoid persecution but to soar with Jesus in it.
How do we do that? How do we respond when our faith is attacked?
1Pet. 3:8 To sum up, all of yoube harmonious, [be a supportive community for each other. Be] sympathetic, [GK, sumpatheo, lit., "suffer with" one another, be present for each other. Be] brotherly, [love as family. Be] kindhearted, and humble in spirit [not arrogant, nor acting in the flesh;] 9 [And when you are called names, or discriminated against for your faith do not retaliate:] not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
Extra rewards in heaven are promised for expressing grace in submission.
After Jesus said, Matt. 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. [He said] 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The way you respond to people who discriminate against you at work or attack you online is important to God. But it never feels good.
Nobody wants to be called a hater! Or a fool. We take it personally. Shame is triggered, and our pride and self-defense mechanism retaliates. But know that this is a spiritual attack on Jesus Christ, not your personal worth.
Jesus said, The world hates Me, because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. (John 7:7) The world hates God. Hates His authority. His morality. It loves the darkness. Calls evil good. This is the world Jesus came to save. And this is the world that you and I are to represent Him before, today.
So if they call you fool, rejoice, they notice. Hear what God says, “the real fool is the one who says there is no god.” You aren’t a fool, for God has revealed to you the mysteries of God in Christ. You know the Way and the Truth and the Life. And you aren’t on the wrong side of history, you know the One who is the Beginning and End.
For those who don’t know, He is
Rev. 1:5… Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth… He loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
When social media attacks, when co-workers turn on you, rejoice and turn to Him. Don’t play victim or counterattack, but 1 Peter 3:9 give a blessing instead: for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
Then Peter quotes Psalm 34,
1Pet. 3:10 For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE [the good life], TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS [even under hostile conditions], MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. 11 HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
1) Guard your lips and keyboards. Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit.
2) Turn away from evil and do good—don’t react in shame or pride, cling to Jesus. V9 “Don’t return evil for evil or insult for insult, but give a blessing instead.”
3) When haters hate, “seek peace and pursue it.” Don’t back off your beliefs. Don’t just agree with them to pacify them. But seek a peace not a battle.
Then Peter quotes more from Psalm 34, which gives us several assurances,
1Pet. 3:12 FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS [assuring us of God’s care and protection], AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER [reminding us that God gives grace to the humble], BUT  THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” [So do not fear them.]
Peter then asks an important question: 1 Peter 3:13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. [Christ will reward you in addition to heaven. So live your faith out loud, bring Jesus to work, and into the public sphere, share what He means to you with others and if you suffer for it do this with Christ. He quotes Isaiah Ch. 8] “AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED”,
Isaiah 8:12 And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. 14 Then He shall become a sanctuary…”
If you regard Him as holy and awesome, towering over demons, presidents, superstars, superheroes, nations, galaxies, technologies, philosophies, if you regard the LORD of hosts as YOUR God and Defender, then you won’t fear any threat, accusation, or derogatory name men call you! And then, He will become your sanctuary, your holy place, your safe place.
Back to 1 Peter, Peter says the same thing to New Testament Christians,
1Pet. 3:14… “DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED”, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts!
This is the same thing Isaiah said but Peter connects Jesus Christ to be the Lord of hosts!
To sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts is to have the highest regard for Jesus Christ and His His will, His authority. (For me I have to focus on His grace first: His authority and Lordship are awesome and good, but it is His grace that draws me to Him.) So sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, have a relationship with Him that affects what you do, the choices you make. This may be more gradual, in fits and starts. But to sanctify Christ as Lord is to not make every decision on your own, and don’t fear that others are in control of you either. Submit to it—Christ is Lord. He is sovereign. Nothing can happen without His okay. He loves you. He watches over you. If He allows bad to happen, He is with you and He will bring you through it and reward you for it.
But if you live like that, be ready to to suffer and to be share about Jesus.
1Pet. 3:15 But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…
When we show that we trust Jesus, and we aren’t afraid to speak, we don’t fear what others do, and if we are insulted we love rather than curse, some may ask—How do you respond that way? How do you love like that, or forgive like that? Why aren’t you afraid? Why are you so hopeful?
I know of some who start with their weakness. What they struggled with, anger, guilt, relationships. This can set the scene for you to tell them what Jesus did for you. How you found hope, value, love, forgiveness, mercy.
Some personally explain a passage like John 3:16 or 1 Pet. 3:18 “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Maybe have a 1 minute elevator spiel prepared. For me,
“My hope isn’t in people doing the right thing or that good things happen to good people. My hope is in the God who made the universe and created every one of us in His image; that even though I rejected him for so long, I am of great worth Him. I know it's true because He sent His Son, Jesus Christ. And while powerful men put Him on a cross and killed Him, unjust as it was, Jesus flipped it on us, He went to the cross for my good. He dealt with all the stuff that messed up my life and that kept me from God. And after He died for us, He rose from the dead. And He promises us eternal life with Him. I trust this. And God honors my trust. I know God forgives me, even for the things I can’t forgive. And I know God welcomes me, and He wants me to know Him. And the more I know Him, the more my hope increases for this life and for the life to come. So no matter how good or bad I am, no matter what you or anyone thinks or says of me, even if the worst happens, just as Jesus rose from dead, so will I. And this world will be made new—full of love and authentic joy. No sadness, injustice, no pain. That’s my hope. That's His promise to all who believe.”
The world wants us to conform to its image. “Act like us. Think like us.” And if not, at least keep your faith private, offline, out of the public square. Don’t even share your beliefs with your children, for that’ll interfere with our plans for them.
And too many believers oblige, thinking, if we keep quiet and we keep the peace and we make the world happy—we’re really good people for it.
But church, it’s holy week, Jesus didn't even make it through Friday night.
And we have the best of news. Our message still blows the angels away. It is the power of God to save everyone who believes. It defeats the power of sin and hell and death. And it confers entrance into the kingdom of God and to the throne of grace and of His presence in glory. Believe it. Live it. Share it.
1Pet. 3:12 For THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, AND THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL. 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.