032: Could These Things Get in the Way of God?


Shownotes: Could These Things Get in the Way of God?

Could These Things Get in the Way of God?Check these three things that could be a screen between you and God.

Church as a Screen

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (Matthew 23:23–24)!

The Pharisees’ actions are a metaphor for the ways in which too often we favor the external aspects of our worship of God over following God in God’s ways. Thus, we limit the extent to which we experience God. These external aspects, seen most clearly in our busyness in church and with church things, are like a screen.

Too often, church is like the screen. The good aspects, the committees, the activities, and the rest of it become a screen between you and us. In many ways they are also like weights that keep us so tied down that we don’t have the time and/or the mental and emotional space to press in to know God more deeply. The church as a whole stops praying. We pray individually, but are aware of how inadequate it is. Sadly, this afflicts lay and clergy.

Accomplishments as a Screen

Life achievements can pose a dilemma for you in that they can become a distraction, another screen. They can shift your focus from God onto the accomplishments. These are the measures that the world uses to judge and validate you and others. These can even be the measures that the church as organization uses to judge and validate you and others. If you don’t learn from the Pharisees, you will be susceptible to this screen. You will be so distracted by “achievements,” actual or hoped for, that you shift from pursuing God.

We too need to press and strain and make every effort to know Christ, to know God. It calls for setting your heart on God and aligning with God’s purpose. We must pursue God and not possessions and accolades.

The Fear of Ridicule as a Screen

Yes. Ridicule is real. It hurts. Thus, you can allow it to be a screen that keeps you from entering more fully into experiencing God more deepy and doing all that God has called you to do.

It could be that you don’t want to be called a “Jesus Freak” or “churchy churchy” or “too religious.” You may not want the title of “Bible Thumper.” You don’t want to be labeled hateful because of standing for what you believe. There are many names that are used to mock the faithful Christian.

There are two dangers with ridicule. The first has been mentioned already—allowing it to keep you from drawing closer to God and doing all that God tells you. The second is responding to it. You see, responding to ridicule takes your energy from the task at hand, where it is most needed. But let’s take a look at what is really behind ridicule.

Ridiculing comes from a position of insecurity. It may be that the person is jealous because you are doing something while they are doing nothing. They may be jealous because of the attention you’re receiving and want to make themselves the center of attention. They may also be angry that you are not doing and/or thinking as they want you to. Finally, they may be afraid that you are showing them up. After all you are the light.

Be Turned to God and Don’t allow screens to come between you and God

Remove the screen. Prayerfully evaluate what is necessary in God’s sight and what God would have you do. Not every good thing is needful all the time, as you see in the Scripture with the story about Jesus, Mary, and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Do the things God leads you to and prioritize time with God in surrendered prayer. In this way, there will be joy and life in church and it will not get in the way of God.

  • If you’re a leader in church, prayerfully consider whether or not everything is vital and as God wants it—in your life, in the life of the church, even in the lives of the members. Could they be so busy that they have little time to cultivate their relationship with God, little time for spiritual disciplines? Of course, if you’re going to make changes bring everyone on board and manage the change.
  • When people are not very active, hear their story without judging them. Walk with them and help them to find their place that God has for them in the life of the church. Perhaps they have found their place and you can learn from them.
  • Above all, be on God’s agenda. Put the practice of “mercy, justice, and faith” as your priority. Strengthen these through your prayer life that then flows into action, as Jesus did. Don’t let church get in the way of God.
  • Celebrate accomplishments and let the glory go to God, in whom we live and move and have our being.
  • When people ridicule, be like Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 4:1–6. Nehemiah faced Sanballat and Tobiah’s mockery, ignored it, prayed and continued to do the work to which God had called him—rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

Practical Tip

Take an inventory. What could be coming between you and God?

Photo credit: Devanath / Pixabay.com

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Bible Version

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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