We left last week’s post with the question: “How am I in the way?” You can read the post here. Is it possible for us to get in the way of Jesus working? I think the rather obvious answer is yes.
In a couple of sentences, last week’s post focused on our purpose as the church, which is to make disciples (Matthew 28). God’s heart is seen here:
9 The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. (2 Peter 3:9)
How do we get in the way of seeing other people come to follow Jesus?
One of the clearest examples of how we can get in the way is when we focus on our wants instead of God’s. Jesus is trying to explain to the disciples how he is going to have to suffer. Peter tries to correct Jesus (yes, he tries to correct Jesus) to which Jesus responds:
But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Matthew 16:23)
Wow, Jesus refers to Peter as Satan. Now Peter is not Satan, but Peter is focused on his thoughts instead of God’s thoughts. Peter is getting in the way of Jesus.
When we go back to the beginning we learn that sin comes into the world when Adam and Eve fail to trust God:
The snake was the most intelligent of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say that you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”2 The woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the garden’s trees 3 but not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it, or you will die.’”4 The snake said to the woman, “You won’t die! 5 God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3)
Adam and Eve did not trust God. Even worse, they thought God was keeping something good from them. So they took matters into their own hands. They focused on what they wanted.
We can be in the way of Jesus when we find ourselves reluctant to change. However, we can be in the way of Jesus when we allow too much change as well. Jesus gets rather upset again in the Temple:
12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21)
It seems to me that we are fairly “gifted” at finding ways to get in the way of Jesus. Thankfully, he can still work through us, seemingly in spite of us at times. Next week, we will see some of these examples.
Can we get in the way of Jesus? Yes. Fortunately, I think confessing that fact is really the beginning of getting out of the way and being used by God.
10 Create a clean heart for me, God;put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! (Psalm 51)
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)