In recent days we’ve talked about rescues and rescuers, and people who aren’t ashamed to be known as followers of Jesus.
We’ve covered “the birds and the bees,” great uses of light and even peace gardens.
But have you discovered the common obstacle? The thing that could undermine it all?
A maze is a fun series of obstacles. Everything inside of them looks pretty much the same, and it’s far too easy to get twisted around and forget the direction you’re supposed to be going in. The largest corn maze in the world is at Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon, California. It’s 60 acres! Every year families take kids and friends and head into the maze to test their navigation skills. Some of them end up there for hours and hours, hopelessly lost. “The obstacle” is the culprit. Have you figured it out yet.
Today’s verse supplies the final clue, and says WE DESTROY EVERY PROUD OBSTACLE THAT KEEPS PEOPLE FROM KNOWING GOD.
Yup, PRIDE is a major obstacle in lots of things from corn mazes to entering the Kingdom of God.
Some families and folk who get lost in the corn maze finally end up abandoning their pride – often after hours of wandering – and actually end up calling 9-1-1 to get a police rescue! Every year the local sheriff’s department gets several frantic calls from people who can’t find the edge of the maze. “I don’t know what to do anymore. We’ve been in here like four hours,” one caller said. Another caller worried that the maze would close and leave him stranded. “We’re stuck and they close at 10,” he said in a 911 call. “We’re very worried and we can’t find a way out.” But the REAL role pride had played is more insidious, because none of these people had bothered to take the FREE MAP that was available at the entrance to the maze. And that would have made all the difference.
If you think a 60-acres maze is big, you should take a closer look at the maze of LIFE. Navigating life well is a major challenge. Every choice is an opportunity to get drawn off track, one bad choice can lead to another and then another; and before you know it you have no idea where to turn. Some people decide to swallow their pride and ask for help, but there’s no “LIFE – 911” number to call; if only there was a map!!!!
But wait! THERE IS! The bible is a great map for life, it gives wisdom and solid direction. You could even think of the word “bible” itself as an acronym – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. This is a very important map, because there is only one safe exit from this planet. All the rest are traps set by your enemy. He pumps out “worldly wisdom” to make his choices look good, but bait is still bait and it only leads to his trap. Pride keeps people from abandoning worldly wisdom and appealing to God for His wisdom, but they should. Because the “wisdom” of this world is foolishness with God.
WE DESTROY EVERY PROUD OBSTACLE THAT KEEPS PEOPLE FROM KNOWING GOD
The verse just before today’s verse talks about “destroying strongholds,” and you might be wondering what those are. One of the best definitions of the word stronghold I’ve ever heard is this: “A STRONGHOLD is a lie the enemy tells us to force us to accept as unchanging a situation that is contrary to the Word of God.” Strongholds are lies undergirded by pride. They oppose the word of God and try to deceive people. Often their pride keeps them from asking God for help, sometimes they wait too long, and it’s too late. That’s when the enemy wins.
Our job as followers of Jesus is to destroy the obstacle of pride, first in us and then to target the pride of the people we need to reach with the message of Christ’s love. We destroy pride in ourselves by faith and courage. Our pride causes us to think about ourselves above others. We ask ourselves questions like “If I bring Jesus into this conversation, what will people think of me?” or “I can’t be expected to ask every person I meet to pray with me, can I?” If we listen to those inner voices and hide our faith, pride and fear win and the obstacle to being a tool in the hands of Christ remains. We need to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. When we put the TRUE needs of others first, we allow our faith to be fortified by courage and share openly as the Lord gives us opportunity. That’s how WE DESTROY EVERY PROUD OBSTACLE THAT KEEPS PEOPLE FROM KNOWING GOD.
The only way we can destroy the obstacle of pride in others is by the love of Christ. Love gives, and continues to give. Time, talent treasure – whatever it takes to reach the heart that needs to be reached. Once we have purified our souls of pride and fear by our obedience to the truth, we find a sincere brotherly love at work within us; it allows us to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. And THAT will break down their obstacles of pride.
So keeping on loving. Keep on asking God for boldness to share your faith in the midst of the maze of life.