I came across an article Nabeel Qureshi wrote a couple of years ago and thought it was a good reminder of how we should view people who challenge our belief in Jesus:
Years after I became a Christian, I considered the events surrounding my conversion and wondered why I had not responded to Christ earlier. The answer came quickly: there was so much I had to give up to become a Christian. Of course, I never said “I’m not accepting the gospel because of what it will cost me.” Rather, the cost colored the way I received and processed the gospel.
Because of my own path, I know well that simply addressing thoughts is not enough to present the gospel; I must respond to a questioner’s heart. When a Muslim questioner comes to the microphone, I have the bizarre privilege of seeing my younger self trying to attack me. And I am reminded again that as I experienced the love of my friend who won my trust while sharing the truth with me, so must I address both the heart and the mind. I have to address not only the intellectual component of my challenger’s questions but also evince the truth that he is, in fact, already broken, and there is only One who can restore him. The irony is that I am answering his question for a single purpose: while he is asking it to tear me down, I am answering it to build him up.
Following Christ will cost a person his whole life. Do not forget the effect this fact will have on the way people hear and consider your arguments. Have mercy, and be patient. The Bible says of Jesus, “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out” (Matt. 12:20). As people who represent Jesus, we are to have His gentleness and compassion. So, as Nabeel said, when someone is challenging you in order to “tear you down,” remember you are there to build him up.