Tuesday, July 24, 2012

OPPOSITION by Tony Manley

I am still living with Nehemiah and taking on the task of helping him rebuild the wall!  He is deep into the process and opposition is intensifying.  In the beginning of the process, the opposition was from the “without” people – the ones not connected to the wall, the ones threatened by the rebuilding.  But as the project is continuing, the opposition is becoming closer to home, it is beginning to come from the “within” people – the ones who are connected to the wall, the ones who started off in helping with the rebuilding.  How does this happen?  How important is it to identify where opposition is coming from or even where it is directed?

The word opposition just sounds tiring!  To a young mother, an oppositional child is tiring; to an employer, pastor, teacher, coach oppositional people can wear them down.  To a Shepherd, an oppositional sheep is a full time job (now does the rubber meet the road personally?!).   Opposition is a natural part of this sin-affected world.  Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble,” so I should not take it so personally because opposition is not just about me; it is all about all of us.  The difficult aspect seems to be when it comes from the “within” people, the ones I am connected to, the ones I am teamed with in this project – the unity of Christ, the family – physical and spiritual.  Sanballat (the oppositional leader) began to “stir up trouble against” the rebuilding wall project.  He did it by ridiculing, bringing doubt about the leadership, and timing the assaults at a time when the laborers were becoming tired and even somewhat fearful.  Now, that is my point – tiredness, overly busy, stress, fear…great opportunities for opposition from within to become a place of nurturing!

I can at times be guilty of living in my emotions (often a shallow place to make wise judgments)!  The beginnings of what God calls me to (spouse, parent, friend, employee of the job I pursued, church member of the church I said God called me to) tend to be much stronger in the start than when I get into the long haul.  It is a challenge to finish my calling well - to build the life or place God gives me specifically as my task for Him/His glory.  Opposition can distract, tire, and even defeat.  I can find myself listening to the lies of the flesh, enemy, and the world.  Key word – lies. Thus, this is the very reason I must hide God’s Word so deeply in my heart that truth becomes my default place. The last part of John 16:33 is the very truth that must rise and rule the heart –“But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  This is what Nehemiah clung to as truth in the moments of opposition that “looked” impossible and intimidating.

As I live my dailyness, the truth that God is greater than what I see, the truth that He has equipped me (Heb 13:21), and the truth that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” (Rom. 8:37) should give me peace and strength that I can have abundant life in the midst of opposition and be one who rejects the place of sowing opposition to God’s work and way!

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