What To Do When You Are Persecuted For Your Faith
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Most of the faith-related dilemmas believers have to cope with result from rejection of their Christian beliefs by people who don’t know Christ. The anti-Christian bias of unbelievers can be frustrating to deal with and even demeaning, but it doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of persecution. However, increasingly the Christians who come to me for counseling are describing situations in which opposition to the Christian faith crosses a line and becomes persecution. When you are harassed, mistreated, or discriminated against because of your faith, you are being persecuted.
I do not refer to this issue as religious persecution because the cases I deal with are not about religion per se. Rather, they are about Christianity. The believers I counsel are being persecuted for one reason and one reason only: their Christianity. Here are a few examples of persecution of Christians that occurred recently:
A Christian teacher was reprimanded for saying “God bless you” to a fellow teacher.
A Christian businessman was told to stop wearing neckties that have Christian verses on them to work.
A Christian professor was told to remove a bumper sticker from her car that contained the Bible verse, John 3:16.
All of these situations represent more than just opposition to Christianity. These are clear-cut cases of persecution. Although being persecuted for your Christian beliefs is an abomination, it should come as no surprise when it happens. After all, persecution of Christians is not new. If you are being persecuted because of your Christian beliefs, you are in good company. Never forget what Christ said about persecution of Christians in John 15:18-19. In these verses Christ made it clear that His followers should expect to be persecuted. Those who hate Christ are bound to hate His followers. Consequently, there may be times when you have to take a stand against the persecution.
When responding to persecution, begin by applying the following strategies. These strategies will help ensure that you are pursuing justice rather than vengeance or retribution:
Run to God, not from Him. Like any form of adversity faced by Christians, persecution can drive us to God or push us away from Him. Make the choice to run to God when you are being persecuted. Trying to face down your persecutors alone just gives them the upper hand. But with God at your side, you can do what is necessary to withstand and overcome persecution.
Pray for guidance, wisdom, and perseverance. There will never be a time when Matthew 10:16 is more important to you than when you are being persecuted because of your faith. When beset by persecutors, pray constantly. Ask God for three things: 1) guidance concerning how best to handle the situation you face, 2) wisdom to handle the situation in a manner that is Biblically sound and practically appropriate, and 3) courage to stand firm while showing those who mistreat you the image of Christ.
Remind yourself constantly that God is sovereign. People who persecute you are doing the work of Satan. Although you are suffering at their hands now, the battle is not really between you and your persecutors. You and they are just players in a much larger drama, the age-old clash between good and evil. Fortunately, this is a battle that has already been won. God is sovereign and against Him Satan can do nothing (see Acts 4:23-35, Luke 2:29, and 2 Peter 2:1). When being persecuted, remind yourself constantly that God is sovereign and will prevail at the time of His choice.
Search the Bible for help, and apply what you learn. There are libraries and bookstores full of literature containing various strategies for dealing with adversity of every kind, but your best source is the Bible. It always has been, and always will be. The answers you need concerning persecution in the workplace will be found in the Bible. The key is to take the guidance provided in God’s Word and apply it to your situation in ways that conform to Christ’s message in Matthew 10:16. Be faithful to your beliefs and continue to reflect the image of Christ in all you do. Then let God do the rest. Proverbs 1:24-33 warns of what happens to scoffers and fools who ignore God’s wisdom. Your persecutors are scoffers and fools.
Seek the wise counsel and assistance of fellow Christians. Don’t keep what is happening to yourself. Share your fears, frustrations, and facts with fellow believers. Christian brothers and sisters can provide the support you need to persevere against persecution and help you stand firm in ways that reflect the image of Christ. In 1 John 3:17 we are admonished to open our hearts to brothers and sisters in need. You have Christian brothers and sisters who are waiting to help, and want to be called on. Let them help you.
Once you understand the strategies just explained, you are ready to implement the final strategy I recommend: seek legal redress. America’s system of justice and law was originally based on a foundation of Christian morality, but the trend in our country and, correspondingly, our justice system is to replace Christian morality with secular humanism. Consequently, with every victory they win in the courts, those who reject Christ become increasingly bold in their attacks on Christians. Fortunately, there remain sufficient remnants of Christian morality in America’s system of jurisprudence you and I can still have our day in court, and often prevail.
There are numerous organizations as well as individual law firms that specialize in religious freedom cases. An organization I often recommend is Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF funds legal cases, trains attorneys, and represents Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith. ADF has an admirable track record of winning approximately 80 percent of its cases and has played a key role in 47 victories for Christians in the Supreme Court. ADF is an organization to approach if you are seeking immediate assistance and relief from persecution. ADF may be contacted at the following web address: www.adflegal.org.
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