Around the same time, a large church, located in a suburb 10 or 15 miles outside of New York City, sought to purchase a second campus further west. The thriving church was growing to several services a week, and needed to expand by adding another church building outside of urban city limits. The new site that was chosen was that of a failed business park. As the church sought to move ahead in church renovations and permits, there was strong opposition by members of the community. The township was not welcoming to the new church.
Great opposition is a possible sign that a lot is at stake.
Jesus is clear that we will need to march forward into the world, with confidence that this is our assignment. John 17:18 says, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” The proceeding 2 verses are interesting. Jesus prayed;
“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” – John 17:16-17
If we're about our Father’s business, then we will be spending time in the world, laboring to bring His Kingdom to earth, as it is in heaven (see Matthew 6:10). His words are a prayer to our Heavenly Father, and a warning to us; opposition should not surprise us. Still, our task is to infiltrate and influence the world, step by step.
Like Joshua, we face occupied territory. Regardless of this sometimes threatening realization, we must move ahead. Infiltration carries amazing promise. In Joshua 1, God makes these promises;
"I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand 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 1:3-5
God assures Joshua that;
- He will give him every place where he sets his feet
- He has established the territory that will be his
- No one will be able to stand against him all the days of his life
- He will be with him; He will never leave nor forsake him
These are promises that are ours to claim. But God does not make these promises to Joshua without first giving him a pep talk that contains calls to righteousness and to courage. Prior to the land possession directives given to Joshua, God tells him to be strong and courageous three times. When God says something three times, it is of tremendous importance. The following is from the passage of Joshua 1:6-9:
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you... Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We are not to turn and flee and leave the ground for the enemy to establish as his. We are to be strong and courageous!
In another town, the pastor tells the story of how the now-megachurch was called by the town’s Fire Chief when a family of five lost their home to a fire. The same town, that lobbied agains the church just a few years ago, now calls the church to help families in distress. This family was in church that day, praising God for the Gospel message that led to provision and salvation for each member of the family.
Ministries and churches, organizations and individuals all carry immeasurable influence when they have taken ground for the Lord. This influence, however, came as a result of effective infiltration. They each moved ahead, into enemy territory, and claimed ground for the Kingdom. Be strong and courageous. There may be opposition,but He has ground for you to take, too. Wherever you go, you will be light. It just may be that He is leading you to a place where His light is needed.