Mark 2: 3-8
Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things?
Matthew 5: 11-12
‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
If you love other people like Jesus loved, if you love your neighbour as yourself – then you will face opposition, you will be criticised, you will find that not everyone will applaud, cheer you on and encourage you. And the hardest part is that often the greatest opposition and negativity comes from inside the church rather than from out there in the world.
Isn’t that what we find in Jesus’ ministry. His greatest opposition came from the most religious people. It came from those who claimed to know God best.
It’s often from those who know God’s law – but don’t know God’s heart. They have plenty of truth to quote – but no grace to offer.
In my almost 11 years of ordained ministry I have encountered opposition. Some of it from people, a lot of it spiritual - although the two can be difficult to distinguish because the enemy used people, for example, Judas Iscariot. At one stage we had Christians who very strongly objected to our prison ministry and put up a Facebook page naming ex-offenders who are part of the church with our photographs beside them. Some of those within the church who had been around the longest with the growth we experienced and that we weren't doing things the way we used to do them. They preferred it when everyone knew each other. However, they weren't reaching anyone back then.
The simple reality is this: If you are ever going to do anything significant with your life – you’re going to face opposition. You will be criticised. At some point you will make decisions that will upset some people and they will lash out. Especially if you’re in any sort of leadership role. As leadership expert John Maxwell says: “The price of leadership is criticism.”
Aristotle said this: “Criticism is something you can avoid easily – by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”
Never forget – this is a battle we’re in. Hell hates it when God’s people rise up to love and serve like Jesus loved. The enemy will attempt to distract you and discourage you - but He cannot defeat you, because Jesus has already won! Stand firm in Christ's victory, love as Christ loved and win your world for His Kingdom.