The only sure way to avoid opposition in life is to never do anything worth opposing. But Jesus has called us to more than that. When he calls us to new life in him, he also calls us to bring new life to our neighbors and the nations. As we begin to do that, our local churches will begin to experience revitalization. And as we do, we will face opposition.
When we begin to face opposition, we have two choices. Either we will quit or we will overcome it. The Lord didn’t call you just so that you would quit on him. He called you to overcome. The question is, how?
Here are four steps to help you overcome opposition:
Go back to your mission
The mission of the church is not to have great attendance. It’s not to enjoy fun fellowship. It’s not to have pristine facilities. The mission of the church is the Great Commission. We are called to bring new life to our neighbors and the nations by making disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ. When opposition comes, don’t allow the opposition to make you lose focus on that mission. Instead, let it cause you to hone and sharpen your focus. Go back to the mission God has given you.
Go back to your prayer
When opposition comes is not the time to start praying. The time to start praying is when you first begin to be burdened about the mission God has given you. Think about it this way—when is the best time to repair a boat? Is it before the storm comes or in the middle of it? At my church, we are preparing for and praying about opposition long before it comes. Hopefully, you were deep in prayer long before you set out on your mission. If you were, then when opposition comes, all you need to do is go back to those seasons of prayer. Claim God’s promises. If you don’t have those seasons of prayer to go back to, then start now. Bail water, fight the storm and pray hard—just don’t give up.
Go back to your preparation
As you set out on the mission God has called you to, it requires preparation. You will never be able to prepare for every opposition that might come your way, but you need to be realistic. Prepare for contingencies. Don’t go into this thing blind. Our faith isn’t blind—it is in a God who has proven himself faithful. Neither should we blindly step out to do the mission he’s given us. We need to step out, knowing that we are as prayerfully prepared as possible for what might lie ahead. That way, when opposition comes, we have something to go back to. You might not have prepared for each specific obstacle, but at least you have trained yourself to think through contingencies enough that they will be easier to work through.
Go back to your faith
While going back to your mission, your prayer and your preparation are important, the real key to facing opposition is to go back to your faith. Nehemiah’s key to facing opposition was that he believed the good hand of his God was upon him. When you know your mission is from the Lord... When you know the Lord has heard your prayers… When you know the Lord has guided your preparation… When you can look back and see all of the doors the Lord has opened up along the way… When you see all of the things the Lord has already done, what makes you think that he would leave you now? God is faithful to keep his promises. And he has promised that he will finish what he starts in you and your church. When you step out to accomplish the mission he has given you, he will finish it. Do you believe him?
God hasn't called us and given us a mission just so we would quit at the first hint of opposition. He has called us and empowered us to be overcomers and persevere until the end.