Our culture loves a good underdog story. Whether it’s on the football field, in pop culture, or in entertainment, we love to see the unlikely hero triumph against the odds.
And yet, even though we love these sorts of stories, in theory, we actually hate being the underdog in reality. We cling to power, the upper hand, the favorable ground. We posture for the most influential seat at the table or the most powerful place in the organization. This is what we do when we operate by the world’s wisdom or by our own flesh’s agenda.
But God’s people are indeed called to be the underdog – for He Himself was the original underdog. Though he was all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-encompassing, God took on the form of the most humble man in the most humble of circumstances and through that form triumphed over all the powers of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
His followers are called – and empowered – to do the same. But how are we to effectively resist the powers of this present evil age? The example of Paul and his followers here helps give us a picture of how to do that.
Firstly, they didn’t let the numbers sway their conviction. Rather, like Elisha, they knew there was no reason to be afraid “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” (2 Kings 6:16). At a moment’s notice, the armies of heaven are ready to respond to the call of King Jesus (Matthew 26:53). Numbers are of no significance to the Lord or His people.
Secondly, the rage of the crowd did nothing to intimidate them. For they knew that even though “the kings of the earth rise up and the ruler’s band together against the LORD and against his anointed… The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them,” (Psalm 2:2-4). What point is it for the world to rage and the nations to plot in vain when King Jesus is already installed on the throne? (Psalm 2:6)
Thirdly, they were aware that God uses what looks like defeat for his own certain victory. Nothing can prevent his victory! Rather, he uses “all things” (Romans 8:28) to serve his purposes. Not even sin and death can prevent his triumph (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)! Even if Paul and his companions were to die, they would die with the knowledge that their deaths would only serve to advance the Gospel.
May we join them in their fight against what seems like overwhelming odds – but in fact is a battle that’s already won!
Pastor Ryan Lunde