How should you respond today when someone opposes your faith and sets it aside?
This may be an all-too-familiar experience for many people in 2023, regardless of their particular faith, denomination, practice or belief — and a Washington pastor who leads a Christian church has shared his thoughts on this unfortunate but all-too-real circumstance .
“It can be painful when someone verbally attacks you because of your faith,” said Pastor Jesse Bradley of Auburn, Wash., who leads Grace Community Church outside Seattle.
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“Your beliefs can attract people who want to undermine or destroy your relationship with God and your worldview,” he said.
He also noted: “Religious persecution is global and can result in prison, beatings, and even death. Most often, however, the experiences are ones of slander, exclusion, mockery, cancellation, or bullying. »
Bradley noted that while people “can’t stop the negativity” of others, they can “choose their reaction” selectively.
He shared three key ideas and advice in comments to Fox News Digital on the topic.
1. “Walk in the truth”
“When your faith is not blind faith, but is based on historical facts, you are on solid ground,” the pastor said.
“Facts lead to faith. Christianity, for example, is based on the resurrection of Jesus and the clear evidence is very convincing. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) – and there is no deception in Him .”
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He added: “God is faithful and keeps all his promises. In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus reminds his disciples that they are blessed when people persecute them, because the rewards in heaven will be great.
Bradley stressed: “Make sure you don’t look down on people, be rude and hypocritical – or misinterpret what someone is communicating. These are not forms of persecution, but personal changes that you need to make. »
2. “Walk with love”
Bradley detailed some New Testament teachings that many Christians are familiar with.
“When Jesus was beaten, mocked, spat on and murdered, he continued to love the people who had hurt him. He prayed for them, asking God to forgive them because in a very deep sense, they did not know not what they were doing.”
“Because Jesus has forgiven your sins, you must fully forgive everyone.”
Bradley said: “Love includes prayer. Love includes sacrifice. Love includes forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean you will be close friends. Distance can be wise.”
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Forgiveness, however, “means that you will not feel bitter, resentful, or try to take revenge.”
He noted that “God has the final word and will deliver justice.”
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And “because Jesus has forgiven your sins, you must fully forgive everyone. Love and forgiveness glorify God and free you from the burden and poison of unforgiveness.”
3. “Walk with purpose”
When Jesus was persecuted, “he did not back down, give in to fear, abandon his mission, become silent, water down the message – or not denied the reality of the experience,” said Pastor Bradley.
“Avoid the temptation of crowd approval and the constant search for the easiest road.”
He urged Christians to “be like Jesus” in this regard.
“Avoid the temptations of crowd approval and always seek the easiest path. Make faithfulness to God your top priority – and trust Him with the results.”
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The pastor, husband and father also pointed out, “Many people put their faith on the back burner when opposition increases. Instead, ask God for courage and meditate on His word (Joshua 1:6-9). Continue to love God with all. your heart, love your neighbor and share your faith. »
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He also said, “God is always with you and will never leave you nor forsake you. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39).
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