As I read headlines about our ELCA and some of the reactions to our churchwide assembly votes, it has caused me to reflect on who we are as communities of faith, and to what degree we need to be in agreement to move forward with the mission of Christ.  Also, I am looking to my bookshelf and find myself re-reading some of my favorite works.  These personal “classics” bring reassurance at times when I need guidance. 

Very few of my personal classics are spiritual giants or famous names (except for that one called the Bible), but this I am offering a piece of a little-known book of reflections on ministry called, “The Art of Pastoring:  Contemplative Reflections.”  Written by William C. Martin (1994:  CTS Press, Decatur, GA),  and now out of print–but worth tracking down.  In his little book, Martin gives several reflections for Christian ministry on a variety of topics.  Here is the one entitled,

Thought 69 – Opposition

If someone opposes your plans

do not think that you have an enemy.

You will have an enemy

only if you make him so in your heart.

Wait and see.

Perhaps your opponent is an angel

sent from God

to show you more subtle

and deeper aspects of the Word.


Let your so-called opponent

show his true intention.

If he is truly in opposition to you,

your waiting and patience

and lack of attack

will give you the victory

that redeems you both.


And then Martin’s observations:

My opponent is not my enemy.  S/he is a gift from God to help me refine my spirit.  What opposition are you facing right now?  Wonderful!



3 Responses

  1. I believe your thoughts to be very faithful and based on the love of Christ for all. I have a close friend who once shared in a sermon, “when we start to draw lines in the sand, as we look up we will see Jesus on the other side.” Thank you for posting.

  2. Unlike Mr Martin I think that we do have an enemy; but he is so right to say that our enemy is not human. Our enemy is the committed enemy of our Creator. Our enemy is working in and around us through sin and death degrading what the Creator has made and the people who Christ died to redeem.
    Our enemy wins more ground every time we confuse our fellow human beings with our true enemy.

  3. A metaphor for the good news, “the gospel” was once portrayed to me in this manner.
    “We were an encampment of soldiers, hunkered down in a valley savoring all the rest we could before the big battle looming ahead. The enemy awaited over the hill, we knew it could be our end, we waited in fear. AND THEN our scout, that brave little man who was charged to go ahead of us to seek out the position of the enemy, came running down the hill, the perch of his view of the enemy screaming in delight, “GOSPEL, GOSPEL!” I’ve engaged the enemy for you, the enemy is no more! The victory is won for you! You may now go home, re-engage in real life with your families and give thanks to God!”
    For me… this is gospel, this is how any enemy has been or will be engaged in my life. My focus is no longer on some enemy, for Christ has won the victory. My life is free to exercise thanks. Oh yes, evil continues to exist in the world, but it has been and continues to be defeated because of that once and for all engagement with that scout from Nazareth, the one who has gone on ahead of us to clear the way.

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