Intimidation Against the Church

Intimidation Against the Church

When I lived in the Klein Karoo, I was an enthusiastic mountain biker. I used to relish riding out into nature exploring farm trails. However, there were two things I never enjoyed: headwinds and uphills. Cycling into strong winds, especially on inclines, was disheartening, and I had to remind myself, “no pain, no gain”! This experience is how we can feel as friends of Jesus living in a sinful world that undermines the sacred and true.

 

How Should We As The Church Respond to Opposition?

How do we respond to the headwinds and uphills, the pressures and intimidating anti-God ideas we face that challenge our faith?

Expect Difficulty

Firstly, we should expect difficulty. Let’s not be like some of the early Christians who seemed caught off-guard when the gusts of intimidation and trouble came against them because of their faith (see 1 Peter 4:12). We remember that Christianity was birthed into trouble; into a pagan world with many competing gods threatened by the radical message that Jesus is the true Lord.

Today, we face the buffering of “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV), working through people and systems that replace God with Man as the centre of all things. For example, ‘truth’ is proudly and defiantly redefined as ‘whatever is real to you’. And whoever claims the God of the Bible as defining truth is seen as an intolerant trouble-maker. Suppose we don’t celebrate our society’s idea of social justice, sexual freedom, gender diversity, and ‘tolerance’ (defined now as having to agree with different viewpoints, rather than respectably debating and agreeing to disagree). In that case, we are seen as narrow, hateful and bigoted. These are real headwinds we face as we follow Christ.

“the Lord … wants us to develop a resilient mindset that is not shaken when we get intimidated or attacked for loving Christ and honouring the Scriptures.”

Jesus, Himself, tells us plainly that because we identify with Him, “the world hates you” and “if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:19-20, ESV).

“Why would Jesus say this to the disciples? Is He being a killjoy? While the Lord brings life to the full, He wants us to develop a resilient mindset that is not shaken when we get intimidated or attacked for loving Christ and honouring the Scriptures. “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away” (John 16:1, ESV).

Stay Vigilant

Secondly, we are to be vigilant. A seasoned cyclist knows to keep their wits about them for dangers on the road. We do well to remember the warning: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour“.  – 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV). The term “sober-minded” refers to being spiritually and mentally alert, knowing that we face a spiritual enemy who tempts us to drift away from the truth of the Gospel. One of the ways he does this is through the winds of false ideas and seductive arguments. Therefore we are to have “minds that are alert and fully sober” (1 Peter 1:13, NIV), so we can learn how to respond rightly.

As we face intimidating people or confusing ideas that challenge our Christian faith, the answer is not to hide away but to engage with their objections and ideas. I have found that there is nothing as effective that causes me to wrestle through what I believe as friends and family who challenge my faith. Having sceptical people in my life has been a surprising gift to me as they have forced me to re-examine my faith and learn to defend it. God’s will is for us always to be 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 (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).

God wants us to learn to give answers for what we believe in reasonably and even persuasively (see Paul’s example in Acts 19:8; 26:28). And we are commanded to do so “with gentleness and respect.” When we disagree, we do so with a gracious attitude, never raging and never needing to run away.

“those who made it through the most unimaginably tough times weren’t the strongest or fittest, but often those who kept hope.”

Be Hopeful

Thirdly, we are to be hopeful. From a secular perspective, the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl experienced first-hand the brutal horrors of World War II German concentration camps. From that experience, he wrote ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, giving profound insight into how people can endure great suffering. He explains that those who made it through the most unimaginably tough times weren’t the strongest or fittest, but often those who kept hope – who were able to dream for the future. And this empowered their will, enriched their inner lives and gave them an inner resolve and freedom they could draw from, which no Nazi guard could take away from them.

Scripture itself also teaches that our ability to endure is motivated by hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). And our hope is rooted in the Lord, who always keeps His promises. Like the Psalmist writes amid headwinds and dark valleys, Why are you cast down, O my soul?… Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5, ESV). We also echo Paul’s words in our hearts: “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10, ESV).

We identify today with early church believers facing trouble and persecution. Their greatest hope was looking forward to their final salvation when Jesus would return as the rightful Lord of all. Paul calls it “our blessed hope” (Titus 2:13, ESV). Often I have been provoked and challenged by this truth. We place our hopes in temporal things, yet our surest hope is found in God. Do we long for His appearing and long, in hope, for the rightful king to return? Our longing and hope in the return of Jesus is probably the most significant fuel to help us remain joyful and resilient amid an anti-Christ world.

“We place our hopes in temporal things, yet our surest hope is found in God.”

 

In Closing

In His unsearchable wisdom, our great God chooses to use the blustery headwinds and steep uphills to grow us into Christian maturity and resilient faith. As we navigate the pressures and trials of our faith, we will do well to expect difficulty, stay vigilant, and be hopeful. And let us always be ready to give an answer for this great hope within us!

Michael serves on the eldership team in Joshua Generation Church and is the Dean of Timothy Ministry Training. He is married to Adrienne, and they have three children. Michael loves to teach, write, train up future leaders and play tennis. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more.

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Tribulations
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Overcoming
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Immorality
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Lust
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Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
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Romance
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Apostles
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Holiness
Partnership
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Parenting
Poor
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Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
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Godly Love
Body of Christ
God's Presence
Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
Signs
Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love
Potential Leaders
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Hospitality
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Adultery
Rebelling
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Shepherds
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Judaism
Enlightenment
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Footholds
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Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
Kassie du Plessis
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Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
Spreading The Word
Cheating
Training Teenagers
Cancer
Youth Ministry
Following the Call
Four12 Equip
Eldership Training
Community Leading
Pastors
Rest
Sacrificial Serving
Sonship
Jewish
Reason
Selling Out
Prostitutes
honour
favour
Devil's Schemes
Children
Forgiveness
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Prophetic
Tithes
Helper
Illness
Principles
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Discipling
Sancti
Words of Knowledge
Babies
Prayer
Sexual Purity
Christmas
Jealousy
Meditation
Promises
Loss
The Cross
Persecution
Unfaithfulness
Sacrifice
Brazil
Prophetic Training
Healing Conference
Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Expectancy
Christian Character
Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
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Praying
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Fathers
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Training
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Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
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Team
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Get Baptised
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Morals
Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
Work Values
Family
Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Authors
Review
Husband
Isle of Man Conference
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance
Apostles Teaching
Apostles
Evangelism
Holiness
Partnership
Stewardship
Caring for People
Doubt
Church Involvement
Wife
Reconciliation
Overseers
Lying
Deception
Hell
Raising Children
Godliness
Miracles
Word of God
Ordained
Equality
Breakthrough
Defending My Faith
Covenant
Teenagers
Four12 Churches
Training Pastors
Needy
Rastafarian
Translations of the Bible
Preaching
Authentic Community
Relationship with God
Faith and Works
New Christian
Creation
Reading
Worldviews
God's Love
Presence of God
Apostolic
Faith
Holy Spirit
Pastoring
Suffering
Brotherly Love
Eternity
Community
Wives
Bishops
Shepherd
New Believer
Greed
Immaturity
Raising Kids
Parenting
Poor
Bible
Ordinance
Unforgiveness
Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
God's Presence
Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
Signs
Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love
Potential Leaders
Baptism
Fear of God
Hospitality
Peace
The Bible
Church Leaders
Hardship
Fellowship
Holy Living
Character of an Elder
Adultery
Rebelling
Signs and Wonders
Baptise
Infant Baptism
Power
Possessions
Study the Bible
Steward
Hatred
Hospitable
Spreading The Gospel
Relationships
Training Children
Health
Youth Training
Counting the Cost
Healing Equip
books
Raising Leaders
Shepherds
Contentment
God's Character
Affirmation
Judaism
Enlightenment
Building Deep
Prostitution
Godly Team
Footholds
Breaking Bread
Festivals
Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
Kassie du Plessis
Protector
Tithing
Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
Spreading The Word
Cheating
Training Teenagers
Cancer
Youth Ministry
Following the Call
Four12 Equip
Eldership Training
Community Leading
Pastors
Rest
Sacrificial Serving
Sonship
Jewish
Reason
Selling Out
Prostitutes
honour
favour
Devil's Schemes
Children
Forgiveness
Income
Prophetic
Tithes
Helper
Illness
Principles
Living for Christ
Government
Discipling
Sancti
Words of Knowledge
Babies
Prayer
Sexual Purity
Christmas
Jealousy
Meditation
Promises
Loss
The Cross
Persecution
Unfaithfulness
Sacrifice
Brazil
Prophetic Training
Healing Conference
Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Expectancy
Christian Character
Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
Beliefs
Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
Comparison
Training
Bible Study
Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
Brazil Churches
Prophetic Equip
Voice of God
Team
Home Group
Change
Servant Leadership
Apostolic Leaders
Authentic
Religions
Intellectual Pride
Ambition
Fruitfulness
God's Favour
The Church
Christian Living
Gentleness
Joy
Repentance
Unity
Loving People
Infirmity
Family Values
Righteousness
Leading
Exhortation
Self-Righteousness
Kingdom of God
Commands
Provision
Sex Before Marriage
Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
Sacrificial Giving
Church Merger
Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
Priesthood
Jehovah's Witnesses
Women In Ministry
Fruit of the Spirit
Womens Ministry
Messiah
Mind Idolatry
Megachurch
Biblical Paradox
Honouring God
God's Manifold Wisdom
Church Leadership
Church Life
Giving
Kindness
Revival
Water Baptism
Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheism
Church History
Living the Gospel
Paradoxes in the Bible
Honouring People
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure

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