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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Spiritual Sticking Points

The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

Have you ever had a spiritual sticking point? A spiritual sticking point is something that blocks your spiritual journey. There’s an issue, an objection, a question, a concern that blocks your progress toward a spiritual breakthrough.

Have you ever been there? You hunger for a deep, authentic, personal relationship with Christ, but something stunts your spiritual progress. You’re attracted to a relationship with the God of the universe, but there’s something you just can’t seem to get past. If that’s you, you’re not alone!

Here are four of the most common spiritual sticking points:

Spiritual Sticking Point #1: I Can’t Believe

The first sticking point is when we say, “I can’t believe.”

This struggle is often expressed by people with intellectual issues blocking their spiritual path. A scientist might say, “I can’t believe the Bible because it conflicts with science.” Or the mother of a sick child might say, “I can’t believe in a God who permits my precious girl to suffer when so many evil people thrive.” Or maybe it’s a lawyer who says, “I’m used to dealing with evidence, facts, data, and logic; I can’t believe in something we’re asked to accept on faith.” A businessperson might explain, “I prayed my business would succeed, but it’s going down the tubes. I can’t believe in a God who ignores my prayers.”

This is the sticking point that Jesus’ disciple Thomas had. We hear it in John 20:25b where he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (NIV).

How can we get past this spiritual sticking point? Actively seek God. Search the Scriptures. Investigate the evidence. When we do these things, God promises to meet us. Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart” (NIV).

Spiritual Sticking Point #2: I Don’t Want to Believe

Now, few people will come right out and admit this, yet this is a spiritual sticking point that stops a lot of people.

Have you ever talked with someone who just wasn’t interested in hearing the evidence for God? They don’t think there could be any real evidence—subject closed.

At first this may seem to be an intellectual sticking point, and in some cases it may be. But sometimes, as you get to know the person, you’ll discover that there is another issue behind their rejection of the evidence.

Moral issues often get in the way of a person’s spiritual journey. They may be involved in an adulterous relationship, unethical business practice, or some other sin. Sometimes people reject the evidence as a way to hide their real concern that becoming a Christian would mean a radical life change that they’re just not open to. In other words, sometimes we love our sin more than we love the truth.

Other people have a similar kind of hidden obstacle: the fear of intimacy. They aren’t afraid of Christ changing their life; their unspoken fear is of intimacy. They feel attracted toward God, but they recoil from the prospect of relating to anybody on a deep level. And since the core of Christianity is a deep and dynamic relationship with Christ, these people find all kinds of excuses to say it’s just not for them.

One other variation of this spiritual sticking point is a hidden authority obstacle.  A person who struggles with this doesn’t want anyone, including the God who created them, to tell them how to live their life. So they find reasons not to believe.

Spiritual Sticking Point #3: I Don’t Know What to Believe

We’ve seen that some people say, “I can’t believe.” For others, the real issue is, “I don’t want to believe.” And now third, some say, “I don’t know what to believe.”

Today, people get confused because they hear all kinds of interpretations of the Bible. They see different denominations. They hear some people who take the Bible literally and some who say it’s just a general moral guideline. They hear people using the Bible to support contradictory positions. They try reading the Bible and get bogged down in Leviticus.

So they throw up their hands and say, “I don’t know what to believe. It seems like the meaning of the Bible changes according to who interprets it. So who is right?”

If that’s your sticking point, it’s important to know that the key to accurately understanding the Bible is the same as the key to understanding any communication—you must study to determine what the writer actually meant. Not what we want it to say; not to interpret it for our benefit; not to read our biases into it, but to figure out what the writer intended to communicate.

This is important because sometimes we let what we want the Bible to say to get in the way of what it’s really saying.  Our motives can radically color the way we interpret things. And people do that with the Bible to get around teachings they don’t agree with or don’t want to apply to their lives.

Spiritual Sticking Point #4: I Do Believe; Isn’t That Enough?

These people say, “I understand the gospel, and I believe it’s true. But I still feel like I’m at a sticking point. I feel like something is holding me back from experiencing the kind of relationship with God that other people talk about. Why does God seem to be distant from me? Why can’t I really connect with God?”

That’s because merely agreeing with the gospel isn’t enough. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder” (NIV).

It’s not enough just to nod our heads in intellectual agreement. As John 1:12 tells us, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (NASB).

There’s a simple spiritual equation that flows out of John 1:12: Believe + Receive = Become. We can’t become true children of God without both elements; we must believe in Him intellectually, and we must receive His forgiveness and leadership personally.

Where are you on the journey of finding God? What obstacles stand in your way? Now can be the time you get past your sticking points once and for all, if you’ll believe the truth, receive Christ, and become a child of God.

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