Too Many People Fail to See God at Work and Instead Oppose Those Who Follow Him into His New Ways
Jesus warns his followers what awaits them. First, they’ll get kicked out of their church and then people will kill them. Their opponents will do so in the name of religion, thinking they’re acting in service to God, but their actions fight against God.
This means the killers aren’t coming from the world but from within the family of God.
Historically this happens whenever a new move of God occurs. The biggest movement of God was Jesus coming to fulfill the Old Testament Law. Most people miss this, and so they oppose him.
There is also Moses who leads the people from slavery to freedom. He gives them instructions on how to live as a free people. They oppose him—for forty years. Though they don’t kill him, they provoke him so much that sometimes he wishes he was dead (Exodus 32:32 and Numbers 11:15).
The Old Testament prophets likewise suffer opposition and death. It seldom goes well for them.
Today’s Church Can Fight Against God
The pattern of religious conflict continues since the time of Jesus. Most notably the Reformation. Christians oppose other Christians. Christians hate other Christians. And Christians kill other Christians.
Another momentous time of Christian versus Christian hostility happens at the birth of the Charismatic movement in the early 1900s and again at its rebirth in the 1960s.
Each time God is at work doing a new thing. Each time, many of his people mount a significant opposition. And God’s messengers usually suffer for it.
Gamaliel’s Wise Advice
Don’t label the people who follow God into his new way of doing things as heretics and oppose them. Instead, we would be better off heeding the words of Gamaliel who told the religious leaders, “Don’t bother with them.
If they’re doing this on their own, they will fail. But if it’s of God, we can’t stop them—and could end up fighting against God himself,” (see Acts 5:38-39). That is, don’t fight against God.
Instead of kicking the people we disagree with out of church, we would be better off seeing if God is at work. Instead of arguing, let’s listen.
[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is John 16-17, and today’s post is on John 16:2-3.]
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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