Summary: Why is following Gopd so difficult sometimes?
• Start off with big kid and a small kid and tell them to pull the rope as far as he can
• Slowly, continue to add people to oppose the big kid until he gives up
As we continue to look at God’s call in our lives to go and change the world around us, I think this tug-o’-war serves as a great illustration for what happens when we finally begin to dig in and actually make an impact on the world around us.
We finally reach a point where we feel like we are doing the best we can at putting God first in our lives. We are loving others as ourselves and putting them before us. We have made sure to take time to rest and take care of ourselves so that we have more to offer God and so we don’t burn out and become too empty. And on top of all of that, we have prayed to God for help, wisdom, and direction. Now it is time to dig in our heels and get to work!
As we begin to be a leader and make a difference it may seem somewhat easy at first glance. Just like with Adam when he began pulling the rope. Things are moving in the right direction and things seem to begin to be changing. Maybe you encourage one friend to come to church and he comes or you raise a lot of money for the 30 Hour Famine. You begin to think, “This is easy! I can do this.”
But then all of a sudden, it starts to get a little more difficult. There seems to be more opposition building and it is becoming harder and harder to live out your Christian faith and make a difference with it in the world around you. As it builds and builds and builds, often times we are left feeling discouraged, empty, and all we want to do is give up.
For the next few weeks I want to look at this issue of opposition when we respond to God’s call to change the world around us. As Nehemiah dug his heals in and began the work of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he faced numerous amounts of opposition and shows a lot of wisdom in dealing with it.
In two weeks we will jump into looking at the specific forms of opposition that Nehemiah faced but for tonight I want to ask a simple question. That is, why do we face opposition when we respond to God’s call to change the world around us? I mean, God is asking us to do this, so why is it hard? Why do we get made fun of, or threatened, or beaten up? Does this mean that God is setting us up or letting us fail?
Tonight I would like to look at Matthew 10:16-25 where we find a few things that can help provide answers for us to these questions.
***Read Matthew 10:16-25***
In this passage, Jesus is talking to his twelve disciples and was sending them out to tell people about Himself. The first thing we see is that Jesus says that as followers of Him, we should expect opposition. He compares Christians living in this world to “sheep among wolves.” He says that we will face physical harm and threats and that we may face public ridicule and be thrown in jail or punished for our faith in Him. He says we will even experience family problems because of being a follower of Christ. In verse 22 Jesus says, most bluntly, that “ALL nations will hate you because you are my follower.” Again, Jesus is telling us to expect these things if we are really living for God. Expect to end up like Adam did in the tug-o’-war. Basically, I think what Jesus is communicating here is, “Don’t be surprised.”
After making it clear that we will face persecution though, Jesus gives the disciples three things to encourage them.
First, in verses 24-25 Jesus reminds us that, “A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master. The student shares the teacher’s fate. The servant shares the master’s fate. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, how much more will it happen to you, the members of the household!” Here Jesus, reiterates the fact that we as Christ’s followers should expect opposition but I think he is also communicating here that He faced opposition first! In other words, he has been there, done that and knows what is like to be going against the world and to be alone during a tug-o-war.
In the darkest time of Jesus’ life, as he was arrested, mocked, abused, beaten, sentenced and put to death he was alone. In the Garden of Gethsemane, as he prayed to God he was so anxious and upset that he sweat blood. He disciples, those who were his best friends, fell asleep and weren’t there for him and later on, Matthew 26:56 says, they completely deserted him and fled. One of the disciples named Peter denied ever knowing Jesus. And even on the cross as he hung in agony he cried out to God asking, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When we find ourselves facing opposition, we can take heart and remember that Jesus has gone before us and experienced the same thing and therefore can provide comfort and understanding.