Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Acting In The Opposite Spirit

"Many Christians struggle with a sense of powerlessness over the darkness in their lives. Yet Jesus has given us, His followers, authority over all the power of the enemy, promising that we would win as we engaged Satan in battle. His Word states that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. But we will have no power nor authority against the devil, either in prayer or evangelism, if we are not moving in the opposite spirit and attitude to him in any given situation.

"...I believe God allows Satan's attacks, first of all, to destroy his works through our obedience. Satan comes in darkness, but our obedience to the Holy Spirit turns the light on. We often hear about the speed of light, but a friend of mine named Campbell McAlpine likes to talk about the speed of darkness. The darkness flees just ahead of light: about 186,000 miles per second. So just turn on the light!"- Loren Cunningham, "Making Jesus Lord" pp.103-105

In the last few months, I've been thinking a lot about this quote, and the principle that Loren Cunningham often lifts up in his ministry, of "acting in the opposite spirit".

I first heard this principle voiced when my son Paul was serving in Youth With A Mission. Before they can go to the mission field, the young people in that organization go through a time of intensive character training, and this is a key component of it. Of course, Cunningham did not just dream this principle up on his own. It is thoroughly supported by the Bible, and was a key element of the teaching and example of the life of Jesus. Weakness becomes strength; the poor are rich; the meek inherit the earth; to gain your life, you must lose it; crowns are conferred not so that they may be worn, but so that they may be thrown at the feet of Jesus. Christianity is the religion of paradoxes.

Put into practice, it looks something like this:

When you are surrounded by a spirit of greed, or tempted to be greedy yourself: give, to the point of sacrifice.

When the spirit of slander or false witness is present: speak the absolute unvarnished truth.

When the spirit of fear is gripping you: act with fearlessness, even if you do not feel fearless.

When the office is full of politics and backbiting: become a humble servant to all of them equally.

When there is a drive to claw your way to the top: purposely accept the position at the bottom rung.

There are many other examples, and I'm sure if you think about it, you are daily in situations where you , or those around you, are acting in a way that is directed by spiritual darkness. To defeat that darkness, you must act- not just think, but act- in the complete opposite manner.

In the month or so prior to Christmas, there was a good bit of discussion about how to avoid consumerism, and the pressure to buy more and bigger gifts to express one's love to family members. Those who chose giving instead recieving, or giving to those who were unable to reciprocate, were acting in the opposite spirit.

When the president elect insists on inviting involvement in his inauguation by those who may disagree with his policies, he's acting in the opposite spirit of partisan divisiveness. When the outgoing president invites the newly elected one into his home, and praises him in public, he is doing the same.

Light splashes over us. Darkness flees at 186,000 miles per second. The Kingdom's territory is expanded.


Green Resolutions said...

Thank you. This is very timely for me. I especially appreciate your specific examples.

Also, I thank you for recommending Serve God, Save the Planet. I can't remember if you suggested in on Facebook or in a blog comment, but I just finished the book and it really helped me to focus on what I've been searching for.

Joyce said...

I think I did review that book, but Donna was the one who introduced me to it.

I hope no one thinks I am able to act in the opposite spirit myself all the time. I try, but as you can imagine, it's a lifelong battle, learning to do so.