Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith. (1Peter 5:8-9)
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm….(Ephesians 6:13)
The phrase in Ephesians 6:13 says “stand firm”, it does not say stand still. Jesus said in Matt 7:24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock”. He then went on to say that when the anti-Kingdom and anti-Life winds and storms come, and they will come, their battering-ram power will be resisted. Standing firm is not standing still.
As sure as the earth spins on its axis, there is resistance to the spreading of the Kingdom, both personally in our individual hearts and lives, as well as corporately across the planet. In fact if it does not continue to spread inwardly through our personal lives, the spreading of the Kingdom across the planet will certainly not happen, but that is a topic for another day.
In my unique role as a missionary/counselor I see resistance all of the time. I see the resistance of an unhealthy family “system”, employing its painful and punitive dynamics, when one member of the family chooses to live a more honest/healthy and spiritually responsible life. Couples, who choose to set aside blame and bitterness and other lifeless practices in order to move toward a healthier marriage will always find resistance sneering at them, whispering lies of hopelessness. Missions’ organizations, that choose to embrace a greater degree of unity and rid themselves of joy-depleting and energy-depleting disunity, will find resistance to such a noble and Spirit empowering cause. As individuals, whether our choice is to live physically healthier (how’s your New Year’s nutrition/exercise resolution going?) or spiritually healthier (I will not judge another, I will not judge another….) will find that resistance simply occurs. And why should we be surprised? We live on a fallen planet!
They way to meet resistance is with our own “resistance movement”. Standing firm is not standing still. It is choice to engage in a forward movement that is active, long term and focused. Our instant-fix techno culture offers us a slew of quick fixes. 5 steps to success, 3 secrets to ensure happiness, fix your marriage in a day, how to make everybody love you, weight-loss pills and supplements that cure or prevent aging/wrinkles/you-name-it. Really?
Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”. (Matt 16:18) Some translations say “gates of Hell” or “powers of death”. I think we could look at the word “prevail” in that verse and read into it the word “resist”. The expansion of the Kingdom will be met with resistance (Gates of Hell) but that resistance will not prevail. My personal spin of that verse would read, “Jesus will continue to build and transform our lives, families and churches. He has come to give us life. He is the Life-Giver. While the death-giver will resist this movement of God’s people from death to life, his resistance will fail and fall powerless, if we do not give up”. Standing firm is not standing still.
The apostle John, the one who intimately and affectionately leaned on Jesus during the last supper said “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”. (1 John 4:4) How do we resist resistance? How do we “overcome” the lies and schemes of darkness? With child-like faith we give place to the One who is greater than the influencer of this fallen planet. We repent and we keep on repenting. We forgive and we keep on forgiving. We lay our lives open before a trusted friend or two and allow our blind spots (pockets of resistance) to become visible and ultimately overcome. We keep trusting the Lord with all of our hearts versus our limited understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) in spite of tough circumstances and the lies those circumstance might be whispering in the night. We continue to give place to His Word in our hearts and lives even when our very culture snickers at the name “Christian” with-under-their-breath comments of narrow myth-believers. We continue to turn our hearts to the Lover of our souls who tells us that His love for us is immeasurable, unchangeable and absolute. We take Him at his Word and live from that rock solid place. We stand firm (engaged and active), in the faith and not stand still. AND we live in gratitude. We only see what we look at – we choose to look at the amazing gifts and blessing from the Lord, name them and rejoice in His goodness.
From the Song: The Goodness of God
My God is a father
Who ransoms sons and daughters
Pouring his costly love on us
His greatest treasure given
So we can be forgiven
His Son crushed to make us whole
Let us not become weary in doing good (moving against resistance), for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)