One of the stories in the Gospels which most people are familiar with is that of the paralytic man whose friends had to make a hole in the roof to let him down so he could get near Jesus. It occurs in Luke Chapter 5 verses 17-26. Why could they not get near him because of all the religious people who had come to see Jesus. How many other needy people gave up and went away because of all the religious types in their way? Now, most of us would be very pleased if people came from miles around to hear us speak as the Scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus. But our natural instincts would be to try and please them. But instead Jesus set off their alarm bells rather than tick off their mental check lists. The thing is are we any different? If Jesus had just healed the man they would have been wowed, but he said “Your sins are forgiven.” There must have been a deathly silence after this because instead of ticking a box in their minds, the tick was replaced by a cross. With one mind they were all thinking one word “blasphemy!” Only God can forgive sins, they thought, but Jesus was God and he was challenging them. So he then proved he had the power to forgive sins by healing the man.
Now, we may not physically impede those are trying to get to Jesus in their need, but with negative attitudes, unjustified criticisms of other Christians and churches, etc. We put up psychological barriers which can deter people by putting Christianity in such a bad light. Considering that secular forces are reinforcing these negative perceptions of Christianity in the media we should be looking long and hard at how others perceive our thoughts and actions. In the West religion is increasingly seen in negative terms as a cause of problems rather than the answer. They forget how many have died at the hands of atheists. On the other hand we must not be afraid of listening to challenging messages and not just those that tickle our ears and egos. We must admit our imperfections, yet strive to become more Christ-like, however much we fall short. That is why we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and not overrule Him. Otherwise we revert to Pharisaism. It is by God’s grace that we are saved and not by our own merits. Nor must we assume that others are beyond redemption. It is our role to lead others to Christ and not stand in the way.
David Rose, 2018.