David L. Goetsch
Responding To Negative Comments About Your Faith (1 Peter 3:15)
Have you ever had someone who—upon learning of your faith—made negative comments about Christianity? It might have happened at work, in school, at a social function, or in some other setting. Over the years, I have heard numerous negative comments about Christianity from people who reject God. Here are just a few of them: “You are too smart to believe that nonsense,” “Christianity is just artificial solace for people who don’t know how to cope with life,” and “Christianity is for weak-minded people who need a crutch.”
Over the years I developed a response that has been effective in countering such negative comments. It goes like this. “Let me ask you a few questions. Christians believe murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting are wrong. Does your rejection of Christianity mean you believe these things are right? Christians believe they are to love people of all races because all people are children of God. Does your rejection of Christianity mean you dislike other people because of their race? Christians believe we are to love thy neighbors—even those who reject God—as we love ourselves. Does your rejection of Christianity mean you don’t treat your neighbors with love?”
I have never had an unbeliever claim he or she rejected these fundamental Christian beliefs. They have all claimed murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting are wrong. They have all claimed to accept people of all races as equals. They have all claimed that showing love and caring to neighbors is commendable. However, they have also claimed you don’t have to be a Christian to hold these beliefs. My response to this claim is, “That’s a debatable point; you might come closer to being a Christian than you think.”
This kind of give and take with unbelievers may not appeal to you or it may not be your strong suit. What works for me may not work for you. But, as Christians, we do need to be prepared to defend our faith when unbelievers challenge it. This is the message in 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
In response to this verse, I developed a step-by-step plan Christians can use for formulating a response when people make negative comments about their faith. The steps are as follows:
Avoid responding out of fear, anger, frustration, or other negative emotions. Remember, 1 Peter 3:15 says we are to respond “with gentleness and respect.”
Pray for guidance before responding. Don’t respond immediately with off-the-cuff comments. Your response is too important. Better to give yourself time to pray and enlist the help of Christ. You will respond better with Christ at your side.
Seek guidance from Scripture. Again, don’t respond immediately. Go to Scripture and find out how Christ wants you to respond. It is better to respond when you are armed with Scripture than when you are unarmed.
Seek the counsel of Godly men and women. Fellow Christians who have experienced this kind of situation can be very helpful in formulating a Christ-like response. Never over look this resource.
Having gone through these four steps, you will be better prepared to engage unbelievers in meaningful dialogue, give and take that accords with 1 Peter 3:15.
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