Summary: This sermon addresses the sources of opposition to the work of God.
Friends, Foes & Family
Introduction: Writing to the Corinthians the apostle Paul once commented, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” Isn’t that the truth? Last Sunday we saw how Jesus ministry was increasing in popularity. Everywhere he went, people were thronging Him, and out of this growing number He chose His twelve apostles, but with opportunity often comes opposition. The Bible says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” I think that was one of the most shocking discoveries I made as a young Christian.
I recall those first few days after my conversion very well. I remember sharing with my parents that I had been saved, only to have them call out the family minister to see if I was all right. It was funny that he was never asked to come while I was living sinfully. There was no visit from him when I would come home drunk in the late hour of the night, no suggestion he should visit whilst I was a foul mouthed punk, playing in a down town bar which coupled as a strip club by day and rock venue by night. But, the moment I became a Christian, it now necessitated a visit from the family minister for fear that I had somehow taken leave of my senses.
I remember well going into work and sharing with my friends of my conversion. I was so pleased to be saved that I gave a general announcement to the whole office. Everyone all at once! But somehow they didn’t seem to enter into my joy, and far from sharing my pleasure they railed on me from the first!! Later they would leave pornography in my desk drawer, and on one occasion pinned a pornographic picture to the back of my coat! One day I was even physically accosted, having my arm held up my back until it was almost at breaking point, and being urged to curse and swear. These were young men who a few days before had been my party companions, as we drank and partied together. Now one of them was getting married and everyone in that office was invited but me, and it was clear that my invitation was outstanding because I was now a Christian.
Things were little better among my other friends, one by one they disappeared. They stopped calling, phoning and inviting. As I engaged in evangelism I soon discovered it wasn’t only people who knew me that wanted to avoid me, but even people who didn’t know me. Again and again my witness was met with rudeness, and/or open hostility. So, if you ever thought becoming a Christian was going to improve your social life, think again. I am over 30 years on from those days and a little more battle scarred and wiser, but even yet I can be taken aback at the opposition of others towards the gospel, and how that opposition is vented upon me.
Paul was right! Many doors are opened, there is plenty of opportunity for the service of Christ, but there is an equal and opposite resistance to those opportunities that comes through many adversaries. We see that as we close out this 3rd chapter of Mark’s gospel.