Has anyone ever openly challenged your faith? Or, do you sometimes feel repressed speaking up for your beliefs? Contrary to what we may expect, Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:10 say “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Based on this Beatitude from Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount, we gain insight into God's plan for us to live a blessed, abundant life. You may be left wondering: How can I possibly be blessed when facing resistance? To dive deeper into this Scripture, below we outline 4 ways to help you handle opposition to your faith - so you can stand firm and trust in God through all circumstances.
#1) OPPOSITION MAKES ME MORE LIKE JESUS
First, it is important to note that there is a difference between opposition by way of persecution and silent repression. In the United States, we see more silent repression. However, many of our brothers and sisters across the world do not have the same religious freedom that we do. While we may be pressured to keep quiet about our faith, there are Christians across the world who face violent physical oppression for following Christ.
In our American culture, when we live out the truths of The Beatitudes in Matthew 5, it does still create tension. That's because the culture says, "survival of the fittest!" while Jesus says "Blessed are the meek." The reality is that Jesus faced incredible opposition during his time on Earth, and John 15:18 reminds us that we will too, as his followers. However, we can take comfort knowing that we are being treated as Christ was - being formed into His image as we stand for our faith in Jesus.
#2) OPPOSITION DEEPENS MY FAITH
The next thing to remember: Challenges to your faith may actually be opportunities to deepen your faith. When you stand for God, the Enemy of our souls stands against us. But this can be a sign that we're actually following Jesus as He meant for us to. Opposition to your faith can actually help you build greater conviction and truly teach you that God is greater than anything you will ever encounter. When you choose to persevere in faith, Matthew 5:10 tells us that we are blessed, even if we don't see it in the moment.
#3) DON'T BE AFRAID
If our struggles deepen our faith, that means you do not need to be afraid. Instead of fearing conflict, we are freed up by Christ to respond to those who oppose us with grace and love. Instead of seeking power over those who disagree with you, choose actions that show the the light of Christ to those around you. For example:
- When the world lusts for power, the church embraces service.
- Where the world values the strong, the church defends the weak.
- When the world bows to the rich, the church values the poor.
So, instead of giving way to fear, pray asking God for strength and faith to stand up for the causes of His Kingdom.
#4) YOUR ENEMY IS SPIRITUAL, NOT PERSONAL
Last but certainly not least, you may feel like any opposition you face is deeply personal. However, the person who opposes you is not your real enemy. The Enemy of our souls is Satan. His job is to oppose you, put you down, and lie to you. So when you face opposition, 2 Timothy 2:14 shows us that it's better to steer clear of heated arguments with those you disagree with. Instead, be kind and patient to others. 1 Peter 2:23 shows us that Jesus actually trusted those who persecuted him to God, who is a just judge. So let us learn from the example of Jesus and remember who the real Enemy is instead of pitting ourselves against other people.
We pray that these 4 reminders will help you stand firm in your faith when challenged by others. As we cling to Christ with courage, may we also pray for our brothers and sisters in the faith who face violent oppression around the world.
To continue learning what to do when your faith is under fire, check out these additional resources from Liquid Church:
- MESSAGE: Defeating Discouragement - From the series Fixer Upper, continue learning from the Old Testament book of Nehemiah on how to handle the critics in your life. Click here to watch.
- ARTICLE: Standing For Your Values - Ever been in a situation where your values were threatened? Learn our three lessons from Daniel the Lion Tamer as his faith in God was challenged to the point of death. Click here to read.