The Passion’s Opposition

It’s amazing the way God works things out sometimes.

You may remember in a previous article my mentioning a certain high school outreach some friends and I had developed and produced.  That program we called “Student Blitz”, and the goal was to bring the Gospel message to a public high school campus in a relevant and effective way.  And as you may know, doing any sort of group outreach on the public school campus is fraught with challenges and restriction, as virtually no campus will allow off-campus groups to come and share the Gospel.  But there is a loophole, in that a student-led group that takes the initiative has a greater freedom to share the Gospel.

Even so, at the time there was essentially no precedent we knew of for what we wanted to do, save the See You at the Pole Event.  The idea was simple: create a short program with a fun skit, a relevant and straightforward Gospel message, a drama, and a closing prayer for salvation; it would be just before school started, and in the most public place on campus we could find.

Now, you can probably imagine our administration’s reaction to this idea.  As is true for most schools, we knew that any event of this kind had to be approved by the administration; that is, they don’t necessarily sanction it, but they do allow us to move forward with our event in the time and place scheduled.  Technically, as long as our event met certain requirements (like having a couple of teachers on hand to oversee the event, refraining from hate speech, finishing before school started, etc.), we could not be denied approval for the event.

That is, not in so many words.  But the first of our problems began when it seemed that, though our submission for approval was in writing and provided several weeks in advance, the paperwork seemed to stall.  Five weeks to go. Four. Three.  Why hadn’t we heard anything back?  Finally, just two weeks before the Student Blitz event, we learned that our paperwork had apparently (and some might say conveniently) been lost, and we had to re-submit our proposal.  One week to go, and I was called into the offices to provide a copy of the music we would be using for our drama (“What Sin?” by Morgan Cryar, in case you’re curious—one of my favorite songs).

Finally, the big day arrived.  The event came and went without any major glitches, and the student and faculty response was generally positive.  Several people had committed or recommitted their lives to Christ, which we were ecstatic about.

Only later did I learn that our principal had attended the event as well.  To put it plainly, she had no intention of ever letting us do anything like that again.  Through the grapevine we learned that the Student Blitz not only made news within our school administration, but within the school district.  Our Bible club sponsor also apparently took some flak for it, but since it was student-led and initiated, there was nothing the administration could do after the fact.

Although I knew how our principal had felt about the first Student Blitz, I fully intended to pursue a second go at it the next year, my senior year.  And as I said, it’s amazing the way God works things out.  Back from summer, I found that our principal had apparently been promoted within the district, and now a new principal had been assigned.  Not only that, but he seemed actually supportive of our Bible club.  And as a result, we were able to plan and produce a second Student Blitz in much the same way.

Even so, this time around the fallout was a bit more negative.  A couple of weeks later a letter to the editor of our school newspaper was printed, and it was very critical of our event in terms of its evangelistic intent.  Our new principal, sympathetic though he may have been, felt the need to take a harder-line approach and informed us that future events would not be allowed before school nor in the public area we had chosen before.  Never again would the Student Blitz take place at our school in quite the same way, though successive events at my alma mater and at other schools in our city actually turned out to be more and more successful.

I know I’ve taken quite some time to share a story, but for me memories like these remind me that doing God’s will is not always easy, and not always without opposition.  Two millennia ago, Christ came with a message that dramatically stirred things up, that was controversial and caused a disruption of the status quo.  And while there is no attempt on my part here to paint my high school experience’s relatively minor fallout as comparable to the persecution Christ endured, it still never ceases to amaze me the way that centuries-old message can still stir things up and incite negativity from those who do not want that message shared. 

A mentor of mine described it as like dropping a pebble into the water.  Like the rock, truth cannot be compromised: it inherently demands that room be made for it, that the elements be moved to accommodate it, for it is not negotiable.  Perhaps this is similar to what Christ said about Himself as the Truth: “He who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed” (Matthew 21:44).

Increasingly in our culture, the Christian faith is becoming more and more an irritant, in that it is often at odds with the direction society wants to go.  In one sense, this is a sign that our faith is working as it is meant to—as salt.  “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said.  My good friend Scott recently pointed out to me that salt may dissolve into water, but the water is still salty; and when the water is evaporated out, the salt remains.  For meat, salt preserves without being compromised, and without ever actually being absorbed as part of the meat itself.

On another level, it means that we must not shrink back in the face of opposition.  But shrinking back seems like the easy answer, doesn’t it?  What’s the big deal about allowing homosexual marriage, after all?—Maybe we shouldn’t have the right to freely share our faith or preach the Gospel as the one and only way to God. That’s intolerant, isn’t it?—Perhaps the minor compromise here or there in my life is an acceptable solution?  These may not be conscious musings, but they are the subtext of a world around us that not only seeks its own but also bombards us with attritional immoral rhetoric.

Yet Jesus left us a warning: “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matthew 5:13).  In His own life (and death) Jesus pushed on—He persevered in the face of opposition without compromise and unwavering in His resolve.  He was literally willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of His God-given dream and calling to redeem us.  Likewise, we must not lose our saltiness—that is, our desire for right-doing—in the face of opposition.  Otherwise we will cease to function in the capacity God intended, as preservers, and will most certainly miss out on His best.  In times of hardship, God will take care of us; He has assured us of the meeting of our every need, of His continual presence with us at all times.  We must be grounded in Him if we have any hope of emerging from this world’s mixed messages with our faith intact and our hearts prepared for eternity. 

Remember His promises when opposition comes:

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

—Mark Knoles

Maxim of the Moment

If you risk nothing, you risk everything. - Geena Davis