Have you ever shared your heart for the Lord and been surprised when you encountered “push-back”? I didn’t know that was an actual word, even though I’ve experienced the concept! “Push-back” has two meanings. The first is what you would expect: a negative or unfavorable reaction or response.
On the one hand, I understand why we get push-back when we talk about Jesus or mention our faith, or give our opinion based on spiritual truths from scripture. Our enemy, the devil, who is the ruler of this world, doesn’t like it, and he wants nothing more than for all true Christians to sit down and be quiet and stop spreading this good news. As far as individuals go, I’ve found there are two kinds of people who “push-back” against any mention of faith: those who say they don’t believe in God (and don’t think anyone else should talk about Him in public), and those who are perhaps under the conviction of the Spirit of God and would rather ignore Him. I’m not surprised when there is a negative response.
On the other hand, the gospel is good news. It’s the story of a God who created us out of pure love, to enjoy His goodness and glory for eternity. Yes, the gospel confronts us with our need for Him, but it provides the answer to that need. As a believer, I just want people to know that God loves them so much He would die for them. I guess I’m still surprised when that offends people.
The psalmist, David, experienced “push-back” quite often, and for long periods of time. He was destined to be king, yet he was falsely accused, chased out of his home, and ran for his life for years before God finally put him on the throne. In Psalm 27, he gives us the proper response when we experience push-back from a world that doesn’t like to talk about God.
Don’t be afraid of your adversaries.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? … Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear, though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident. (v. 1,3)
We don’t have to fear because we’re on the right side. God will defend us. Ultimately, push-back is against Him, not us.
Don’t hesitate to retreat for the moment.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me. (v. 4-5)
There’s no shame in stepping back in the moment of conflict. We don’t have to be on the attack. Retreat is not defeat, but simply a time to regroup, gather our thoughts, and calm our emotions. Retreat isn’t being cowardly but being wise enough to know that we need to seek the Lord’s heart. We need to meditate on Him; we need perspective. And we need to experience the safety and comfort of His presence when the world roughs us up a bit.
Ask God for wisdom in how to respond.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” … Teach me Your way, O Lord; and lead me in a level path because of my foes. (v. 7,11)
If we respond in our own wisdom, we may very well stumble. We need God’s heart and direction. We need His approval of our words and our actions. Our response will have a direct impact on how someone sees God, and we need to tread carefully.
Have confidence that God is working and give Him time.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. (v. 13,14)
There’s a second definition of push-back that is a great illustration for this point: (at an airport) the process of moving an aircraft from a passenger terminal to a runway or taxiway. When push-back happens, things are getting ready to take-off!
The push-back we receive might just be strong evidence that God is already working behind the scenes, and our words or actions were just a catalyst. We may just have triggered a response because of something that is going on in the heart. It probably isn’t about us at all; it’s about what God is doing. We can take courage and hope that something good will come out of it and be patient enough to let God work.
Have you gotten “push-back” lately? Don’t despair. Don’t be discouraged, and for goodness sake, don’t get your feelings hurt, get mad, or give up. Have faith that God is working. Seek His heart and His wisdom in how to respond. And then get out of the way when things take-off!