Life is full of obstacles. If you’ve been on this planet for a while then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Heck, if you’ve ever been to the DMV, then you definitely know what I’m talking about. Many times when we think of obstacles, we think of things that are outside of us or beyond our control. Things like a promotion that seems to always avoid our grasp or a class that we cannot pass. You know the obstacles in your own life that keep you from achieving your goals. But let’s talk about spiritual obstacles for a moment.
What about those spiritual obstacles that lie within us keep us from living the life we were created to live? For the purposes of this post I am going to assume that you are convinced of the biblical call to Christian community (I will do an entirely separate post on that eventually). But what I’d like to show you through this post is that there are two primary obstacles within us that keep us from living according to God’s design for us in community. So let’s start by looking at the obstacles, and then we will look at how we can overcome them.
The Sin of Pride
Oh no, we are talking about pride…again? Yes, pride. It’s showing it’s ugly face once more. Whether we are prepared to admit it or not, we each have pride lurking inside of us. Our hearts are deeply prideful, seeking continuously to lift us up, to exalt us, to make much of us. Pride has multiple forms, but many times it looks just like plain old self-centeredness. I think we can all connect the dots here. If pride is all about making much of us, if it’s all about serving ourselves and our own purposes, then true community (which is about building up others) and pride are diametrically opposed.
Pride keeps us from community in two ways. The first is that pride keeps us from a life-giving relationship with the God of the universe. Men cannot come to God on their own terms. It requires a lying down of our high opinion of ourselves and a recognizing that we are deeply sinful, deeply depraved, and desperately in need of a Savior. The prideful person has their own agenda, but 2 Corinthians teaches us that God gives those who are in a relationship with Him a new agenda. Chapter 5 verse 15 says, “he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” So pride will keep you from a relationship with God.
Pride also keeps us from life-giving relationships with others. No one likes a “me monster”, right? Think about it, how could you possibly be prideful and sustain any kind of meaningful relationship with another human being? The prideful person never apologizes, never admits wrongdoing, and always puts their own needs before the needs of others. What’s life-giving about that? So the sin of pride is an obstacle that keeps us from life-giving relationships in community. But there is yet another obstacle.
The Delusion of Self-Sufficiency
Paul David Tripp’s writings have been so influential for me. His writings always seem to help me uncover the real heart issues that lurk behind the sin in my own life. He often references the fact that we are all prone to live in this delusion of self-sufficiency. We are all prone to think that we know more than we actually know and that we are self-sufficient, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that we depend upon God for our very next breath and that we need others to walk through this life with us. God has masterfully designed His church in such a way that when we come to know Him, we are also brought into relationships with His children (our brothers and sisters in Christ)! The delusion of self-sufficiency keeps us from truly opening up to others and allowing them to speak into our lives. If we would only step out of that delusion into the reality of God’s world then there is life to be found!
So how do we overcome these obstacles? How do we kiss pride goodbye and free ourselves from the delusion of self-sufficiency? The answer lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate example of one who lived a life not characterized by self-centeredness, but rather by selflessness. He emptied Himself so that we could be filled. He knew all along that none of us are truly self-sufficient, so He became the sufficient sacrifice on our behalf when He died in my place and yours. The Christian life is not one of independence and autonomy but rather dependence upon the God of the universe. It is my hope and prayer that we can each identify these obstacles in our lives and then lay them at the feet of Jesus.
-Randy Titus (Community Groups Director)