Have you ever been offended?
What am I saying? It’s 2017! Of course you have.
Let me rephrase that. When was the last time you were offended? Specifically, when were you last offended because someone criticized your faith?
As a Christian, I find it amusing when other people who share my beliefs lose their minds over a criticism of their faith. (Before you excommunicate me as a heretic, put away your digital pitchforks and finish this article.) It doesn’t matter if the girl at the grocery store was bad-mouthing Jesus or a late-night talk show host disparaged the church. Someone, somewhere, often a person with a twitter account, is going to be offended by it and broadcast their indignation to the world.
I (sort of) get it. When someone targets a belief system you adhere to, it can feel like a personal attack. It feels as if they’re not attacking the idea; they’re attacking you for believing it.
But I have a few questions for the Christians who feel the need to defend their beliefs, their faith, and their decisions regarding religion at every turn:
Why is a rude comment or a televised joke a threat to your religious views?
It shouldn’t be. Your faith in Christ should be stronger than that. Quite frankly, we should all be mature enough to let something as innocuous as a stranger’s words roll off our backs. Christian or not.
Maybe for you it isn’t that your faith needs defending. You have a duty to defend the cause of Christ! After all, the Apostle Peter tells us to give a defense of our faith, right?
Let me ask you this: Do you really believe that Jesus needs to be defended from every naysayer? The truth of the Gospel isn’t any less true because someone is antagonistic toward it. God loses no power just because someone doesn’t believe in him.
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
I’ve got news for you. Jesus is a Big Boy. He doesn’t need you to defend him. He can take whatever snide remark or rude criticism people have of him or his followers. He’s taken criticism before, and he can take it again. He’s certainly taken a lot worse.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Let me reassure you, I’m not a heretic. The Bible does exhort us to “be prepared to give a defense for the hope [we] have in Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15) We should be ready to give reasoning for what we believe, but we also need to remember that the Word of God can stand on its own. Jesus has never needed us. For anything. He certainly doesn’t need our defense. He only asks us to seek understanding of His truth and to share that truth with others in an intelligible manner.
Speaking of which, we need to be prepared to not only speak truth, but speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Too many Christians (i.e. the ones with those twitter accounts) speak the truth without that ever-crucial love of Christ. People aren’t going to care about the hope we have in Christ if our response to their unbelief is unkind.
Whenever we’re challenged by another in our beliefs, it does no good, of any kind, to react in defensive anger. What is the result if we follow that (albeit very natural) response? We’re angry, they’re angry, and neither of us is a any closer to Jesus. I can guarantee you, God would want us to react in a kind, understanding, intelligent, and loving response. Even if our defense is theologically solid, it won’t matter if we don’t make love a priority. (Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:23-26)
Maybe the reason some Christians overreact is because their own faith is shaky. Maybe some of us do need our faith validated.
To those who realize that they could use some of this validation, I’d encourage you to turn to Jesus, as well as strong Christians, for support. Like I said, Jesus is a Big Boy. He can handle whatever doubts or fears or insecurities you have regarding him, yourself, or anything else. You don’t need to treat Him with kid gloves. Whatever feelings of doubt, anger, or frustration you have, tell him. Then let him love you. (1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 11:30)
We should always be ready to give a defense of our beliefs, but we should never react defensively. Our goal should be confident faith in our God and truthful love spoken and shown to others. Without these, our best arguments will fall on deaf ears.