Roadblocks

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Mark 8:27-30

A local YoungLife leader took some of his guys out on a camping trip. After some time talking about life, the young men were asked this question, “What is the biggest roadblock that is holding you back from truly saying ‘Yes’ to a relationship with Jesus?

What a fascinating question. There are so many things that can be roadblocks to surrendering our life to Jesus. Most people who take this question seriously understand that saying “Yes” to Jesus is more than just believing that He died for our sins so that we can be forgiven. They get that following Jesus with our whole life is deciding to surrender to His way rather than our own way. It is inviting the Holy Spirit to come and live inside of us so that He can begin to transform us from the inside out.

Some common roadblocks are things like a faulty view of God, thinking that we must clean up our act before surrendering to Jesus. But this is obviously backward. We surrender to Jesus because we admit that in our own strength we can’t clean up our act.

Doubt and unbelief can be a roadblock. Bad experiences with Christians or the church can cause offense, bitterness, or resentment to strangle our heart and these three emotional toxins can become roadblocks. Many times our favorite sins keep us from Jesus. We’re afraid He’s going to ask us to surrender those to Him and we just don’t want to. Or maybe we just don’t know who Jesus is. Many in Jesus’s own day were confused about His true identity.

But, if we adjust this question a little, it can also apply to people who have been Christians for most of their life.

What is the biggest roadblock that is holding you back from truly surrendering every part of your life to Jesus?

I can tell you that in my own life, I have hit different moments where I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that I had been holding different parts of my life back from Jesus. Ultimately, the roadblock for me was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Pridefully, I thought I knew all about the Kingdom of God, Jesus, the Bible and the gospel.

This kind of pride is especially prevalent in my fellow seminarians who have advanced degrees in theology and have gone into full-time ministry. This is especially true of my more “progressive” friends. Their alignment with current cultural attitudes has bolstered their confidence in their own “rightness.” I remember the feeling.

However, God encountered me in a profound way that I wasn’t expecting. He showed me different parts of the Kingdom that I knew nothing about. But before He would show me, I had to surrender. I had to 1) trust in the Lord with all my heart and 2) lean not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Many people with advanced degrees in theology want to do the first but aren’t willing to do the second. I had to confess that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

In other words, the further you go with God, the less you can take with you. And pride about your own understanding is one of those things you can’t take with you. I had to admit, “There is more and I had no idea.” I had to pray, “Lord, forgive me, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” I had to re-enter a kind of Holy Spirit discipleship training with the Lord and this after a decade of pastoral ministry.

So, it is a worthy question to ask yourself. “What is the biggest roadblock that is holding you back from truly surrendering every part of your life to Jesus?

You might know immediately. If not, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it. Just be ready for an answer that you may not have expected and that you may not like.

Glorious Riches

I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:18-19

The Philippians were faithful to give generously to the work of the gospel. Because of this, Paul was confident that God would meet all of their needs “according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Literally in the Greek, the phrase reads, “according to the riches of Him in glory in Christ Jesus.”

What exactly are these riches that are “in glory” that can be found in Christ?

In a discussion with the Romans about why most of Israel rejected the gospel and many Gentiles had accepted the gospel, Paul asks the question, “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy…?”(Romans 9:23). At the end of wrestling with this mystery, Paul declares, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”(Romans 11:33).

To the Ephesians Paul wrote:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ…

Ephesians 1:7-9

Then he explained:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7

And finally:

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery…

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

Ephesians 3:8-9, 16-17

And once more to the Colossians, Paul writes:

the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Colossians 1:26-27; 2:2-3

Over and over again we see that the glorious riches in Christ are the grace, forgiveness, power, wisdom, and understanding that come from knowing the mystery of the gospel. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ, and Christ has now been revealed through the gospel. Christ is now “in us,” which is the hope of glory. Christ dwells in our hearts by the Spirit through faith in Him.

Having a relationship with Christ unlocks the riches of the Kingdom of God–the wisdom, knowledge, power and grace of God Himself. Not only is God pleased to meet our material needs through the provision of the resources of the Kingdom, but He’s pleased to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom to us through Christ by the Holy Spirit.