Journey: Push Back/Push Back?

Read:  Spirit of Power

When we follow the Spirit, we eventually experience push back from a person or group who feels we have ceased to do good and begun to do harm.  That’s because no one and no community is perfect, so eventually the Spirit will challenge someone’s sacred cow.  The resistance will be swift, severe, and negative.  It is, McLaren notes, impossible to follow the Spirit without experiencing criticism and persecution of some kind.

It is at the point of opposition where we face our greatest temptation–to oppose those who oppose us.  The question is, “When we experience push back, do we turn right around and push back?”  If so, we quickly bite back with the same venom we have received.  We use the same weapons on our opponents they have used on us. 

As we give way to this temptation, we find that we have left the Holy Spirit and attached ourselves to the unholy spirit, where vitriol, condemnation, and harm take the place of kindness, forgiveness, and goodness.  Instead of this capitulation to selfishness, we must seek what McLaren calls ‘the non-reactive mind’–one dimension of the mind of Christ, who when reviled did not revile in return.

So much if life hinges on how we answer this question, “When we experience push back, do we turn right around and push back?”  Spirit power gives us the ability to say, “No.”

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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