Life in the Opposite Lane

 “Jesus introduced us to a new kingdom way of living, a way completely opposite of what feels natural. And His way yields supernatural results.” Alex Seeley

Jesus threw a major cultural curveball when He preached the sermon on the Mount. These were not just novel ideas for Him though, but rather a revelation of how the kingdom operates at another level. Love your enemies! Yes, even insert name. Bless people who treat you badly!  Yes, even the taxi driver who cut you off this morning and that colleague. It is SO opposite to what we would ever expect.

In a world that predominantly lives from a place of reaction and self-preservation, it seems so counter intuitive to our human nature to move the opposite way. Whatever happened to ‘stand up for yourself’ and ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’? Jesus sets the tone for a new, better way of living our lives. He offers us a redeemed way of living – pointing to a better way of relating not only to Him but also to one another. Whilst we would often refer to this as living in the opposite spirit, in reality it’s just coming in line with learning to live as new creations.

There has never been a more important time for the world around us, to see and experience the nature of a good, kind, and loving Father through us as believers. Jesus modelled this so wonderfully for us! He said He only did what He saw His Father doing. How our world would change if we were to stop in our tracks and check in with our heavenly Father. ‘Father, how are you responding in this moment, what are you saying?’ Then we went and did only that!

Wait, won’t our responses be perceived as weakness? As believers we need to understand that when we yield our reactions to God and respond with His nature, we are allowing space for God to enter that situation and get involved. When we choose to respond to anger and hate with love and kindness, or to accusations with gentleness and self-control.  These responses often make space for incredible moments of reconciliation and restoration even in seemingly hopeless circumstances.

As Christians we are called to mature out of a space of knee jerk reactions into a place of offering wise, thoughtful responses. To do that we first need wisdom! James 3v 17-18 NIV says, ‘The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness.” Our lives bear a beautiful simplicity when we apply kingdom wisdom. Will we still face challenges? Of course, life on earth will have those. Yet in the midst of it all, God is able to move on our behalf and turn things for good.

We would be fooling ourselves if we thought we could step into this way of kingdom living without the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit’s fruit to be at work, growing within us. More of His: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. It takes abiding. It takes surrender. The fruit of the Spirit are not passive- our cooperation is necessary, in fact vital, to their outworking. Fruit are there to be eaten, they are for the benefit and enjoyment of those around us. When I bear the fruit of love and kindness, gentleness, and joy, those around me benefit!

These are not just nice ideas; these are kingdom principles that are powerful tools in our hands. I remember Graham Cooke equating living in the opposite spirit to being powerful weapons of warfare. It makes sense, the enemy does not have any of the fruits of the Spirit! He is not patient, he has no peace or self-control. When we come into a situation where the enemy is trying to wear us down, and we come with patience and self-control (with a dash of joy sprinkled in the mix), we have the tools in hand to outlast him and overcome!

Three final thoughts on how we can grow in this space:

  1. Operate from a place of rest! Tired people are more likely to operate at a lower threshold of tolerance and react in the moment.
  2. When you want to react, engage the Father: Father what are you saying about this situation? What words are you using?
  3. Do a quick wisdom criteria check: Is my response pure, peace-loving etc. If not, rethink your response!

By Claudia McGregor

References:

Seeley, A. (2019) The Opposite Life: Unlocking the Mysteries of God’s Upside-Down Kingdom. Thomas Nelson Publishers.