There are many factors that can affect our faith because none of us are immune from life’s troubles. It is misleading to imply that when we become a Christian all our problems are solved. There will still be challenges, they are part of our journey through life and cannot be avoided. But are there obstacles that keep us from God? And if so, what are they?
What Are The Challenges of Faith?
Every generation will have its own challenges to being a Christian. Cultural, social, and economic factors change over time, and they all have an influence on our faith. Our own experience will be different from our parents, children, and grandchildren. Being aware of the challenges of faith means we can guard our hearts and minds. We have a level of protection through the word of God and prayer!
Factors that affect our faith in God
- Economic pressures – Stress from the increasing cost of living crisis puts a strain on family life and can be emotionally draining.
- Employment demands – The need to work longer hours, or more than one job, can be physically exhausting.
- Social injustice – Lack of opportunities can bring resentment, frustration, and anger.
- Increase in knowledge – This becomes a barrier if we consider our intellect superior to the word of God.
- Divisiveness in the Church – When our position on disputable matters becomes our priority we lose sight of God.
- Immorality – When behavior that is contrary to Biblical morality becomes accepted by society it can influence our way of thinking.
- Suffering – Personal experience of suffering can make it difficult to reconcile the concept of a loving Sovereign God.
These are just some of the factors that affect our faith in God. This list is not exhaustive – there may be additional things that you struggle with. The truth is every Christian will face some of these problems as we live in a sin broken world.
As we recognize these factors that affect our faith in God we also realize that we have a choice. Life’s problems and difficulties can be detrimental to our relationship with God. But they can also be experiences that strengthen and deepen our faith.
Often it is in the tough times that we learn to rely and depend on God to see us through. It is there through life’s painful circumstances, struggling with difficult situations, that we experience the faithfulness of God. We come to know His ever-present help.
But are there obstacles that keep us from God? Is there anything that separates us from Him?
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:35-39
3 Obstacles That Keep Us From God
The Apostle Paul states unequivocally that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. But there are obstacles that keep us from God, that draw us away from close fellowship with Him. It is not that God does not love us, but rather that we allow something else to replace our love for God…
What are the obstacles that keep us from God then? These are described in the Apostle John’s letter to the churches, he is speaking to believers. The obstacles are rooted in a love for the world, and this does not mean unbelievers, or the created world. The love for the world which is a barrier to faith is a love for the realm of sin. The ‘world’ is anything that alienates us from God, anything that takes His place in our lives. Worldliness is an attitude of the heart.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life comes not from the Father but from the world.”1 John 2:15-16
Obstacles to Faith
The love for the world operates in three basic ways:
- Firstly, the lust of the flesh, which is simply self-indulgence.
- Secondly, the lust of the eyes which is covetousness and greed.
- Thirdly, the pride of life which is rooted in selfish ambition.
Satan subtly enticed Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden firstly by causing them to doubt God’s word. Then he deceived them with a lie and portrayed rebellion as clever to alienate people from God.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”Genesis 3:6
Adam and Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food. This appealed to the lust of the flesh, self-indulgence.
The fruit was also pleasing to the eye, inciting the lust of the eyes, covetousness and greed. Although they were surrounded by food that they could eat, they now wanted what had not been given to them. Rather than focusing on the abundance of good things that they had, they desired the one thing that had been forbidden them.
Then they believed Satan’s lie that the fruit was desirable for gaining knowledge, that they would become ‘like God.’ And so, the pride of life, selfish ambition became the final step in their downfall.
Satan was successful in the Garden of Eden by bringing evil into the world. God did not abandon Adam and Eve. But they were no longer able to walk with God and enjoy close fellowship with Him.
The obstacles that keep us from God are often subtle and take different forms but they are rooted in self-indulgence, covetousness, and selfish-ambition.
Disappointment, unforgiveness, hurt, or regret, can take root in our hearts, if we don’t deal with those issues. Or more subtly there is a danger that we give achievement, success, or prosperity, priority in our lives. These can all become obstacles that affect our relationship with God.
To remain in close fellowship with the Lord, is to continue in His teachings, and to abide in Him. To Abide in Christ is an active, not a passive, decision…
Overcoming Spiritual Barriers
The factors that can affect our faith are the trials of life where our faith is tested.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”Hebrews 11:6
It may sound simplistic but believing in the goodness of God keeps our hearts soft and our faith strong! We are called to guard our hearts and minds, to hold the truth of God’s word close, and keep sin out.
The obstacles that keep us from God are the result of temptation and whether we succumb or resist.
When God is at the centre of our lives then everything else falls into place. When a Pharisee tried to test Jesus with the question of which was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus’ reply was to love God wholeheartedly.
“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”Matthew 22:37-38
Loving God wholeheartedly is the way to overcome any spiritual barriers. We keep a fruitful relationship with God through prayer, reading His word, and keeping short accounts. And this means being willing to co-work with the Holy Spirit who sifts and prunes to makes us ever more fruitful!
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