Recently, a spirit of great discouragement seems to permeate many churches. It’s as if God’s people believe this is the only time of difficulty believers have ever faced. But a brief survey of Scripture and Church history reveals that opposition is often the avenue through which God does His greatest work. Consider those who have been righteous in wicked places or the face of opposition– Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Amos, Elijah, Elisha, Joseph, Jeremiah, Lydia, Timothy, Titus, Aquilla and Priscilla (Corinth), Esther, and the list goes on. Let us not forget the perfect Son of God – Christ left His home in heaven to enter this dreadful, wicked world to redeem us (Gal. 4:4); the greatest work ever accomplished.
Consider the early church. God used three forms of intense opposition to carry the gospel into the all the world:
- Romans – persecuted believers ruthlessly, but they protected some (such as Paul) because of their legal system. Further, they provided an opportunity to take the gospel to the highest levels of government (Acts 26). Rome was known for great wickedness. Yet, they provided roads on which the gospel was taken worldwide. While they dominated and limited some freedoms, they also ensured justice and the rule of law throughout the world. God used Roman opposition.
- Greeks – intellectually ridiculed the believers. Yet, Greek was a nearly universal language by which the gospel was published abroad. The Greek language conveyed the eternal truths of the New Testament writings. God used Greek opposition.
- Jews – infiltrated and antagonized the early Christians. However, the synagogue created a model for the New Testament church – meeting together for corporate worship and Scripture study. While some committed violence, some became trophies of God’s grace (Acts 9; 1 Tim. 1:15). God used Jewish opposition.
It is easy to let the wickedness, uncertainty, opposition, and chaos around you dictate your perspective. Let the people of God never forget that their Redeemer is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20). This is a time for great expectancy. Matthew Henry wrote, “Adversaries and opposition do not break the spirits of faithful and successful ministers, but only enkindle their zeal, and inspire them with fresh courage.“
Allow God to use what appears to be a hindrance to launch His great work into new heights of glory. He is able. He is willing. We must stop whining and start winning. We must not limit God; He will use opposition for His glory. Let us say with the Apostle Paul, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:21).