When your Christianity is attacked, it is important to stand firm in the faith, but it is even more important to do so without becoming like those who oppress you. When unbelievers question or reject your beliefs, think of the message in Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Never lose sight of the fact that in debates about faith, God is on your side; you are in the right. Therefore, it is not necessary to become stressed, frustrated, or angry.
When defending the faith, your words and actions should reflect his image. Greg had to learn this difficult lesson. Anytime Greg’s faith was challenged by unbelievers, his immediate response was to attack. As a former Marine, Greg’s idea of a good defense was a strong offense. He was often heard to say, “If someone is going to attack my faith, he’d better be ready for a fight.” Greg knew his Bible well and was a talented, assertive debater.
The problem with Greg’s approach was that he used the Bible to figuratively slay unbelievers rather than for edifying them and bringing them to Christ. In his own words, Greg “…loved to crush their weak, illogical arguments with the Word of God.” Unfortunately, in “crushing” their arguments against Christianity, Greg often became like the unbelievers who attacked his faith. He liked to claim that his aggressive attacks on unbelievers were justified by righteous anger like that shown by Christ when He threw the moneychangers out of the Temple. Greg had to learn that equating himself with Christ was not only a questionable way to justify his angry outbursts against unbelievers, it was also a dangerous habit trap to fall into.
Although he always argued the Biblical perspective effectively, Greg never seemed to change the minds or hearts of unbelievers. This is what brought him to me. When Greg approached me for counseling, I complimented him for standing firm when unbelievers challenged his faith, but suggested he consider a different approach. Rather than use his debating skills to verbally slay those who reject Christianity, why not use his skills to edify them, to show them a better way?
This can be difficult advice for Christians to accept, especially when their faith is regularly challenged, belittled, or rejected. It was a difficult pill for me to swallow when a pastor first suggested it many years ago. It is only human to want to strike back at those who attack you, particularly when they attack your faith. After all, being human means being sinful. But Christ does not call us to verbally smite those who reject His Word. Rather, we are supposed to show unbelievers the way of Christ. I told Greg he would enjoy better results by reflecting the image of Christ than by arguing unbelievers into submission.
It took Greg a while to accept my advice. Just as I had years ago, he resisted this approach, at least in the beginning. But, to his credit, Greg finally came around. When he did, his knowledge of the Bible gave him the depth needed to patiently deal with even the most vociferous attacks on his faith. Rather than counterpunch those who challenged his faith, Greg calmly and patiently explained the Biblical point of view. Greg was surprised when this new approach was well-received. Whereas the angry verbal exhortations he had used in the past seemed to just harden the resolve of naysayers, his calm and patient explanations of Christ’s Word seemed to draw them in.
Encouraged, Greg started a Bible study in his home one night a week and invited People from work and the neighborhood to join him. Over time, Greg’s Bible study became quite popular. Greg felt particularly blessed one day when a former naysayer defended him after a coworker from another department chided Greg for having a framed copy of John 3:16 on his cubicle wall. That former naysayer had become a regular at Greg’s Bible study. He eventually gave his life to Christ. Once Greg stopped trying to beat unbelievers into submission, he was able to lead them to Christ.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com