By Brooke Holt
“I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” - 1 Corinthians 16:5-8
I had to read through this passage several times before wrapping my mind around it. Paul was telling the Corinthians how much he wanted to visit them but that he was delayed in Ephesus with effective opportunities to share the Gospel and with many adversaries. Wouldn’t most people be deterred by adversaries?
We comfortable Christians often assume that if we face opposition of any kind, then we must be in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing. Maybe we misunderstood God’s call to us or simply jumped ahead of him. Paul has a totally different perspective here! He saw and embraced the opportunities God opened to him while acknowledging that there were people working against him. Opposition was no deterrent for Paul but an opportunity for the Gospel.
How might the Lord want to address our attitudes with this section of Paul’s letter? How do you respond to adversaries or challenges? Do you question God, yourself, the calling on your life? Think of Jesus. The Son of God, God in the flesh, came into the world he created. Were there any red carpets laid down for him, was there acceptance and excitement, or was he opposed and persecuted to the point of crucifixion?
As Paul has been teaching, you have a call on your life. It is essential that you step into that call and faithfully exercise the gifts that have been entrusted to you. This is how the body of Christ will flourish and grow. What you must understand is that you live in a fallen world, and there will be opposition to even your greatest spiritual work.
Paul overcame and was the greatest evangelist to the Gentiles. Jesus overcame and provided the way for your salvation. Now, you, too, can overcome through his Holy Spirit.
How do you deal with adversaries and opposition? Spend some time with the Lord asking him to give you his perspective on these challenges and to grow you in perseverance through his Holy Spirit. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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