Tag Archives: Opposition

Opposition is Inevitable

But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that [Jesus] drives out demons.”
Matthew 9:34 (NIV)

One of the things I have noticed over recent years is the divergent poles of political thought on both sides of the political spectrum. One side thinks that everything they believe is “all good” and whatever the opposition believes is “all bad.” Those in the middle who desire to seek compromise are pulled apart by the extremes on both sides. No matter what good any one tries to do or say, they are immediately attacked, slandered, criticized and their thoughts summarily dismissed.

I found it interesting that amidst Jesus’ unprecedented display of divine power and love He experiences criticism and negativity on all sides.

  • Jesus extends forgiveness to a paralytic, then heals the man … and the religious leaders dismiss Him a blasphemer.
  • Jesus shows love in reaching out to Matthew, the tax collector, and his friends … and He is condemned by the religious leaders for being with sinners, and criticized by the disciples of John the Baptist for partying and not fasting.
  • Jesus arrives to raise the synagogue leader’s daughter from the dead … and He is laughed at by the mourners gathered there.
  • Jesus quietly heals two blind men, restoring their sight. He asks only that they keep quiet about it … and they do the opposite of what Jesus asked.
  • Jesus casts out a demon who had made a man mute … and the good religious people said that Jesus must be the Prince of Demons.

Along life’s road I have come to understand that you can do nothing worthwhile in this world without being criticized and condemned by somebody. Opposition is inevitable in this world, even to the things of God’s Spirit. Today I witness Jesus, who is healing, forgiving, loving, raising the dead and releasing people from spiritual bondage. At every turn He is being criticized, dismissed, ignored, laughed at, and condemned.

Why should I think that it would be any different for me?

This morning I’m reminded that no matter where Jesus leads and no matter what I am called to do, I will encounter some measure of doubt, criticism, hatred and opposition. My job is to press on, keep my eyes focused on Jesus, and to love even those who criticize me for it.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein

Every Leader Wears a Target

The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon.
Nehemiah 4:17 (NRSV)

Along life’s journey I’ve learned that when set yourself up to lead almost any effort, no matter how noble your intent, you will always encounter opposition. Parents trying to lead their family well will experience opposition from children, so-called experts, other parents telling them they’re doing it wrong, or the grandparents telling them they’re screwing up the kids. Teachers leading a classroom have to wear emotional body armor against the slings and arrows they get from all sides. Every preacher on Sunday morning, no matter how true his or her message, has at least a few congregation members who will serve up roast pastor for their Sunday dinner. The greater the task being led, the more virulent the opposition will be.

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In this life, God has not led me on roads where I have been called upon to take on monumental leadership roles. I have never been Patton called on to lead armies in saving the free world from Hitler’s minions. I have always been George Bailey fighting the relatively silly skirmishes of Bedford Falls. Still, I am always amazed at how universally this paradigm holds true. People are people. Stand in a position of leadership and you wear a target on your chest.

So it was that Nehemiah and the people building the walls of Jerusalem encountered opposition from their neighbors and enemies in today’s chapter. Their enemies did not want the wall rebuilt. They did not want Judah to rebuild its regional power. They wanted the walls and gates to remain in heaps of rubble. And so, with the threat of their work being attacked, the laborers had to build the wall with one hand, and had to be prepared to defend their work with the other.

I love that word picture as I wear my relatively minor mantels of leadership. I have to be prepared for opposition as I lead any kind of task. Of course, I’ve also learned that not all opposition or criticism is malicious or divisive. Quite often it is criticism that makes me aware of my blind spots and helps me shore up areas of need. Wise King Solomon said, “The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.” Word. I’ve discovered that wisdom is often required to discern the difference between constructive criticism and opposition of ill intent. I’m still learning.

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Conflict

Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Ezra 4:24 (NIV)

I was in my freshman acting class at Judson College. Students were split into pairs and given a generic conversational script. It was up to the pair to create a scenario, characters, and a setting. One pair of actors got up and played the scene as two friends sitting on a park bench talking. The scene played out with them sitting there saying the lines to each other.

As the professor led us through observing what took place, he deftly got the class to acknowledge that the scene didn’t work because there wasn’t any conflict. It was then that I dusted off a memory of my junior high English class, when I was taught that that every good story, in print or on stage, has both a protagonist and and antagonist. I good story must have conflict. It’s just the way it works.

I believe that all good stories are a reflection of the Great Story that God, the author of Life, is telling from Genesis through Revelation. As such, the work and will of God will always encounter opposition in this world. When good is at work evil will attempt to thwart it. When evil is at work, it is the responsibility of those of us who call ourselves good to truly and justly respond.

In today’s chapter, God is at work in the Hebrew exiles attempting to rebuild the worship of God in Jerusalem. The surrounding neighbors don’t want this to happen and they appeal to the ruling authority in Persia. Utilizing political leverage, the opposition briefly wins the battle in the king’s court. The conflict ebbs and flows.

Today, I’m reminded that in this world the forces of both good and evil exist and remain perpetually in conflict. Just as I must choose whom I will serve, so I should be ever mindful of whom I stand in opposition and my duty to do so.

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featured graphic:  31721843@N07 via  flickr

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 51

Critic. "Listen now, you who know right from wrong,
   you who hold my teaching inside you:
Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked
   don't let it get you down."
Isaiah 51:7 (MSG)

Take a stand, and someone will inevitably crawl into position 180 degrees away.
Speak truth, and voices will always whisper in mockery.
Do the right thing, and those who did nothing will mercilessly critique your performance.

Were it not for individuals who persevered on lonesome paths against long odds in the face of tireless opposition, the world would be a much darker place.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and doyle saylor