Roadblocks of Faith
“And you saw the distress of our ancestors in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea. You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted insolently against our ancestors. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day. And you divided the sea before them, so that they passed through the sea on dry land, but you threw their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters. Moreover, you led them by day with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give them light on the way in which they should go. You came down also upon Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and you made known your holy sabbath to them and gave them commandments and statutes and a law through your servant Moses. For their hunger you gave them bread from heaven, and for their thirst you brought water for them out of the rock, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you swore to give them.
Do Not Make Another Stumble
Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Please Others, Not Yourselves
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.
Sometimes we go through dry seasons in our faith where we are just not as excited and do not feel we are growing as much as we would like. Other times we come to a full stop at a roadblock and cannot figure out how to get around it. One of the most common roadblocks I have seen in life is when family relationships hold you back from God.
We often think about marriages where a wife is connected into a church while her husband is out working or staying home on Sunday morning (or vice versa). She cannot share the excitement and spiritual growth she experiences. She learns to hide it at home, and many times that act of hiding it at home trains her to hide it everywhere except within the safety of the church walls. Since God’s gifts are meant to be shared, to grow, to breathe… this confinement restrains her own growth and eventually she feels frustrated and alone. She has hit a roadblock to her faith. We all hear this problem and want to address blame to the absent spouse, the church that does not help her enough, and maybe even the woman herself – but blame is not what is needed. Help is.
Let me put it another way. I cannot count the number of children who have come to our church, met our people, been curious to learn more about Jesus and what we do as a church, and then have been quickly pulled away by their parents, who are not attending church anywhere. It is easy to talk about spiritually mismatched marriages and poor choices in mates, but can we really tell children that they should have been born in another family? Can we try to take children away from their parents in the name of Jesus when they are being loved, cared, and provided for consistently?
We don’t need blame, we need a solution. When we start assigning blame, we become part of the problem ourselves. When we choose one member of the family to love and try to separate them from their community around them, we often do more harm than good. There are cases of abuse and neglect that have legal ramifications and needs beyond what our churches can offer… but these are not the situations to which I am referring, although perhaps we have been at fault even there sometimes. We become part of the problem when we teach those struggling believers to love the church and hate everyone else, particularly those who seek to pull them away from us. If we are engaged in a tug-of-war between people and their families, we are not really helping them grow in their faith… helping them to trust Jesus. We are teaching them that only we can save them.
Jesus warned the people that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword, that he would separate families from one another, and He certainly does that, while creating new families of faith. However, we are not Jesus, and we often get in trouble whenever we start to pretend to be ourselves. While we may be attempting to save one person’s faith, we may inadvertently become a roadblock to others.
Instead we need to encourage one another in loving God and loving one another. We need to do AND teach others to do the same, for many an enemy of the faith, hell-bent on holding back believers from God, have been converted by the love of those they sought to harm. Furthermore, most of those trying to hold others back do so because of unaddressed roadblocks they have themselves. Will we treat them like a child of God and clear their way, or will we add another bar between them and the God who loves them?
Where have you experienced spiritual roadblocks in your life?
Who do you see experiencing them now?
How can you encourage and support others through those roadblocks?