Sometimes things get in the way!
An aspiring artist was commissioned to do a large sculpture for a famous museum. At last, he had the opportunity to create the masterpiece he had long dreamed of completing. After laboring over the work for many years, he saw it grow not only in shape but in beauty.
However, when it was finished, he discovered to his horror that it was much too large to be taken out a window or door and that the cost for tearing down a part of the building to remove it was prohibitive. His masterpiece was forever a captive to the room in which it was created. That is the type of roadblock many people meet building a relationship with God. Nothing a person does to earn God’s favor can leave the room of this earth where self-made works are created.
Have you ever dealt with a roadblock in your relationship with God? Have you ever wondered, how am I going to get to the other side of this?” As C.S. Lewis said, “Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted.”
In other words, don’t keep trying to figure out the big picture. You can’t. But you can take heart in the fact that your loving Father has you right where you need to be. And if that place is difficult right now, draw closer to the artist. Don’t try to take his brush from Him. Taking the brush will only lead to relationship roadblocks with God.
Paul wrote to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). In this chapter, Paul discusses seven key concepts that can help you avoid relationship roadblocks with God.
1. Grace: Receiving something you did not earn or deserve
No matter how many good works you line up, God’s not impressed. The person who insists that he or she can earn, or keep, salvation by their own efforts undermines the very foundation of Christianity. The work of salvation is entirely God’s doing and none of man’s. There is liberty in knowing you will never be good enough. But God’s grace is sufficient.
2. Faith: A reasonable belief in things not seen
Salvation is by God’s grace through faith plus nothing. The gospel is not about walking an aisle; it’s not about saying a prayer; it’s not about doing more good than bad. You can never do enough good things to get God’s attention. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works are the product of faith, not a substitute for it.
3. Legalism: An improper emphasis on following the law as a means of salvation
Legalism is not Christianity. No amount of law-keeping can make a person righteous. You can never write enough rules to create a good person. Legalism does not please God but offends Him.
When they attacked Stephen, he observed, they did not charge him with worshiping Christ but with speaking “against the holy place, and the law” (Acts 6:13).
The cross still offends people today for the same underlying reason. People are prone to trust in what they can do for themselves and are offended when told they can do nothing at all to make themselves right before God.
4. Freedom: The ability to do what you ought to do
True freedom in Christ is the freedom to do what we OUGHT to do. The idea of Christian freedom is so easily misinterpreted and misapplied. Ironically, the more we assert self-centered freedom, the more we become enslaved to sin. When people choose to persist in a sin, they develop less control over it until they forfeit any choice entirely. “Truly, truly,” Jesus said, “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).
5. License: Abusing freedom to do what you want to do
We are free. But we have to be very clear here. We are free to not sin. Our LIBERTY should not be used as a LICENSE to sin. Legalism and license have been pictured as two parallel streams that run between earth and heaven. The stream of legalism is clear, sparkling, and pure, but its waters run so deep and furiously that no one can enter it without drowning or being smashed on the rocks of its harsh demands.
The stream of license, by contrast, is relatively quiet and still, and crossing it seems comfortable and attractive. But its waters are so contaminated with poisons and pollutants that to try to cross it is also certain death. Both streams are uncrossable and deadly, one because of impossible moral and spiritual demands, the other because of moral and spiritual filth.
But spanning those two deadly streams is the bridge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The two streams lead to death because they are man’s ways. The gospel of grace leads to life because it is God’s way.
6. Holiness: Doing what you ought to do in response to God’s love
Ours is a day that cries for liberation. Men, women, and even children are demanding more freedom to do as they please. In the name of personal rights, authority is flouted, and restrictions are resisted. But ours is also a day of addiction, not only to alcohol and drugs but also to sexual passions, violence, and many other forms of bondage in which a person eventually becomes powerless to escape.
The law demands holiness, but grace gives holiness. God loves imperfect people. This is why churches should be the perfect place for imperfect people. Jesus himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.
7. Love: Responding to someone’s need with no expectation of reward
Rather than liberty being used for lust, the real goal should be love. “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15). God demanded heart service, not mere lip service. Every relationship is harmonized in Christian freedom.
Sometimes things get in the way.
What relationship roadblock are you experiencing with God today?