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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jackie Minor

With Opportunity Comes Opposition

“There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.” 1 Corinthians 16:9

When I first read these verses penned by Paul during his time in Ephesus, I couldn’t help but make application to our lives as Christian educators. My very first thought was this: Any Christian educator could probably say the same thing. Whether your school is private or public, opportunities and opposition co-exist.

Knowing what we know about Paul and all of his missionary journeys, he did not let opposition deter him. In fact, he frequently put his life in great danger to take advantage of opportunities God placed before him (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). Thankfully, God doesn’t frequently require this of us. However, the more I read about Paul, the more I realize his opposition was a direct result of his choice to boldly and without hesitation walk through every door of opportunity. Had he chosen to ignore the opportunity, would he have avoided the opposition? Probably so.

Toward the end of his third missionary journey, Paul claimed, “I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.Acts 20:22-24

Paul’s friends were fearful for him. They did not want him to return to Jerusalem for they knew there was opposition. In fact, they begged him not to go fearing for his safety (Acts 21). Paul not only faced opposition from the Jewish leaders but also from his friends. Not an easy place to be. What would have happened had Paul chosen not to go?

God places opportunities in all of our lives every day. We are given opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to love, to forgive, and to make Him known. Make no mistake; opposition most likely will arise. Are we willing to take the chance? Will fear of opposition prevent us from being obedient? Will we stay true to our calling despite what others think? Will we miss out on future opportunities if we bypass today’s open doors?

Paul knew it was hard. He wasn’t naïve, and we shouldn’t be either. He didn’t ignore the opposition, but he didn’t let the opposition dictate his actions. Paul had powerful advice for the Corinthians, and I firmly believe it was meant for us today.

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

With opportunity comes opposition. If we will acknowledge this truth ahead of time, we can prepare for the opposition while keeping our focus on the opportunity. How do we prepare? Like a soldier! Paul uses military terms here to emphasize the importance of dealing with the opposition.

Be on guard. This literally means to stand watch. Why do soldiers stand watch? They know opposition is likely. We can’t be surprised when challenges comes. We need to be prepared and recognize opposition comes in many forms (Mark 13:37, Matthew 26:41). Opposition will be less daunting when we see it coming.

Stand firm in the faith. If you have ever watched an old war movie, you have seen rows of soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder to maintain their ground. If one falls out of ranks, it creates an opening for the enemy. Paul is reminding us to remain close to other believers while upholding the truth of God’s Word. It’s hard to face opposition alone. Just like a line of soldiers can advance when they rely upon each other, surrounding ourselves with Bible believing Christians enables us to thrive when opportunity comes (Philippians 1:27).

Be courageous. Facing opposition requires courage. The actual term means quit yourselves like men. One translation I read said that when we face opposition, “do not flinch, press forward, resist and conquer.” In other words, we are not to be fearful or cowardly. We are called to be bold and brave (Joshua 1:6-7).

Be strong. Finally, Paul reminds us of our strength in the Lord. We have a power source that is unparalleled. We can be strong knowing that the opposition we face is no match for our God. (Ephesians 6:10, 2 Timothy 2:1).

Sometimes I think it is easy to forget we really are in a battle, a battle for our thoughts, hearts, allegiances, and actions. If the enemy can use opposition to prevent us from taking advantage of our Godly opportunities, then he can thwart God’s kingdom work and set us up for defeat. This is not going to be easy! Being a Christian educator today is not for the faint of heart. We are not called to just blend into the background of our schools. When opportunities come to shine the light of Jesus, we must be prepared for opposition while remaining strong and refusing to compromise.

All of this almost has an “adversarial” tone. However, Paul finishes his command by saying, “…and do everything with love.” I had a little trouble wrapping my mind around this until I thought more deeply about what Jesus did for me. Jesus chose to face the worst opposition possible for the opportunity to offer eternal life to sinful people. How could He stand firm, remain strong, and be so courageous? The answer is simply love. His love for us was stronger than any opposition He faced. The same was true for Paul. Because of his love for Christ and his love for others, opposition took a back seat to opportunity.

How do we approach opportunities? Do we approach them with fear of the opposition or with deep-seated love and resolve? As I look back over my life, I feel certain I bypassed opportunities by allowing fear to win out over love. If the same is true for you, consider praying one of Paul’s prayers with me (Ephesians 3:14-20). I have revised the prayer for personal application.

Dear Lord,

I fall to my knees and pray to you, my Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.I pray that from your glorious, unlimited resources you will empower me with inner strength through your Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in my heart as I trust in him. I want my roots to grow down into your love and keep me strong. Give me the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is for me. May I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from you.

I give all glory to you, God. You are able, through your mighty power at work within me, to accomplish infinitely more than what I might ask or think. Glory to you in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

With opportunity comes opposition. Let’s make ourselves ready!

“There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.” 1 Corinthians 16:9

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