Friday, January 18, 2013

A Door of Opportunity

. . . a great door for effective work has opened to me,
and there are many who oppose me.
1 Corinthians 16:9

The Apostle Paul wrote those words to the Corinthian church that he established sometime after he arrived in Ephesus to work. He ended up staying longer in Ephesus than he did anywhere else in all his missionary journeys. It sounds like he was pretty excited about what God had in store for him. But it’s also a curious verse, mainly because of the last part, “and there are many who oppose me.” Is that supposed to be good, or bad?

Well, people, especially Christians, are fond of the old “door of opportunity” expression. I’ve heard lots of church folks say that a door has been opened to them – this door, that door. But I have never in my life heard anyone say it like Paul did.

Think about all the “doors of opportunity” Paul went through after he met Jesus. With most of those he passed through, he planted a new church. But the opposition got tougher as he went. As a matter of fact it became flat out life threatening. By the time he made it to Ephesus, he had passed through countless “doors of opportunity,” planted dozens of new churches along the way, and at times had to run for his life.

Now, what’s this about a “great door for effective work” that opened up to him? Well, I don’t exactly know for sure, but while he was in Ephesus, he and his disciples held discussion daily for two years so that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” If that ain’t a great door for effective work, I don’t know what is.

Who was against him? Oh, just the people that started a citywide riot against him in Ephesus – estimated population: 250,000 persons. They were angry because Paul had “convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia,” and it was killing their idol business.

So here’s the point of it all. It comes down to a question. Can there be “a great door for effective work” that is not accompanied by opposition? And I’m not talking about that crybaby opposition you’ll get just for being alive in this world. I’m talking about trouble.

I think there are a variety of doors that open up to believers. I think one taken most often is not one that the Lord has opened up to them. That door usually leads to greater comfort, personal success, prestige, money – worldliness.

I think the “great door for effective work” is at first sight, ugly. I think it is surrounded on both sides by trouble. I think there is nothing attractive about it – to the mind that loves things of this world. But the door is transparent to those who truly – and I mean truly – love the Lord, Jesus. They see the Lord’s will carried right on through to the other side. They see the trouble too. They also know the scorn they will endure for passing through. But it’s worth it. They pick up their cross, and follow their Lord . . . and they suffer for it. And he’s pleased with them.
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