Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:2
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
- Ephesians 6:12
“This may be how you feel, but the truth is, the very opposite thing is taking place in the spiritual realm. What I learned from my mum that day was the importance of living according to the ‘opposite spirit.’ By this, I mean acting in a way that is contrary to what is expected in our world. The Holy Spirit living in us allows us to react positively, which is contrary to the negativity coming our way. As a result, we exchange generosity for greed. We exchange peace for stress. We exchange excellence for laziness. We exchange silence and wholesome words for gossip. Or in my specific case, I exchanged forgiveness and kindness for slander.
“Since then, I’ve come to realize that when we move in the opposite spirit of what we naturally want to do in our ﬂesh, we activate God to move on our behalf and fight the battle for us in the spiritual realm. Rather than fighting flesh and blood, we begin to war against the authorities and rulers of the spiritual realm over our lives (Eph. 6:12). We defeat the Enemy by doing things God’s way, which is what the kingdom of God is all about. When faced with a situation, we should ask ourselves, ’What would Jesus do?’ Asking this question can yield miraculous results in our lives. Living in the opposite spirit enables us to live victoriously, with great power and abundance.”
- Alex Seeley, The Opposite Life
In the Scriptures, the quote from Romans is the concept. The ways of this world are not God’s ways. This world is broken, and some day God will fix it. The quote from Ephesians is the method. The verses that follow the quoted verse describe the armor of God with such things as righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation. These parts of our armor are made strong by the Holy Spirit and our reading of God’s Word.
Ms. Seeley starts out her book with a story that I know full well from my life, being verbally assaulted by atheists. You feel that you should stand up for yourself and for God, but losing your cool in the process is precisely what the other person wanted. They did not even have interest in winning their argument. Their whole point was to disrupt your feelings of love, peace, and being a helpful servant. You feel that you have done a great job in not punching them in the nose, but Jesus told us to love our enemies.
I cringe with her use of the catch phrase, “What would Jesus do?” The phrase has been commercialized and adopted by political candidates. When it gets to the political arena, “Truth” within the phrase is lost. The politician will simply say that his/her policies meet the WWJD criteria, and you are going to hell if you do not do what the politician says. A quick Biblical check usually reveals that the politician’s policies would have never been what Jesus would do.
I am thinking of starting a series of these opposites on Sunday evenings. She has eighteen sets of opposites. I may not consider all of them, but I think they are great reminders.
We know some of them. To be the master we must be a servant to all. But how many times have we thought that our servant days are over and now I get to boss people around? Okay, we rationalize nicer words than that, but when it comes down to it… My wife has been a deacon a couple of times. I have been an elder a couple of times. I continually heard my wife’s complaints. “The elders may come up with good ideas, but they never lift a finger to get them done. The deacons are already overworked, and the elders pile more on top of it.” To defend the elders, a few, maybe a small few, will do some work, and sometimes, maybe rarely, it is efficient and effective work. And I have failed to see some deacons working because they conveniently fail to come to church on the Sunday that they are to make coffee and set out trays of cookies. To many, leadership is getting your name in the bulletin. The “work” is done by others – as if others just magically appear.
So, how did these people become church leaders in the first place? They grabbed a broom once, when the right people were watching. They poured coffee for the right person rather than having the right person pour their own. They were being “servants,” just selectively being a servant.
A servant’s heart does not wish to be recognized for the work they perform, and the work keeps going, even when no one is noticing.
But Alex Seeley provides 18 opposites. Some of them you may not have thought about for a long time.
But why opposite? The Romans Scripture speaks of being transformed by the Spirit and not conformed to this world. I have fired artillery, plotted a cross-country flight in a small airplane, and I have taken a compass course through a national park. You can be a few degrees off in your compass reading (or artillery adjustments) and you can miss the target by a wide margin. Why do we have to turn around and go the opposite way? Is that not just asking for worldly ridicule?
Well, repenting of our sins is exactly that, turning around and going toward God rather than running away from God. But we rationalize the situation of being a few degrees off as being enough different than the world. We will be the servant today, but tomorrow we will simply supervise.
My wife was packaging meals one day for delivery to a poor section of town. To clean up an old military phrase, all you saw in the prep line was “backsides and elbows.” People did not talk. They just put their portion of the meal into the Styrofoam container and passed it down the line. After a while, a lady came into the room with a cup of coffee. She stood in the way, where the completed containers were stacked and then carried to the far corner of the room where I was awaiting them, to wrap them in plastic wrap to prevent spillage in transport. Frankly, I was usually running behind as my one task took longer than the time it takes to scoop one spoon of food into a section in a tray. I am reporting this story with my wife’s telling of the story, being too busy to notice at the time. I was across the room, and the coffee drinker blocked the path so that I could not get the containers and the person at the end of the line that was stacking the containers could not get them to me. Finally, about halfway through the cup of coffee, a hard worker, who also had no problem speaking, asked, “And what do you think you are doing?!” The coffee drinker said, “My spiritual gift is supervision and management.” The salty hard worker said, “We are self-starters. We do not need supervision. Either grab a spoon or leave!!” The coffee drinker said, “Well! If you don’t want my help, I will just leave then.” Since the line was jammed full of filled containers, everyone had to stop anyway. I finally caught up to see the coffee drinker leave the room. The workers praised God, thanked the “loudmouth” that was a hard worker, and praised the coffee drinker for finally doing something that helped – by getting out of the way.
We all need to remember that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet the night before He was crucified. Being a servant has no expiration date. Nor does forgiveness instead of revenge, nor does humility instead of pride.
God, help us to follow Your plan rather than following the world’s ideas. Amen
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.