Following Jesus in an everyday way is tough at times. We experience doubts and questions. We face difficult moral choices. And we strive to fit in with our culture. How do we find time to pursue a vibrant relationship with God when there is so much that demands our attention? And what about when it seems like God has let you down? Following Jesus is a privilege and full of joy, but at times there are also barriers we need to navigate. I asked some followers of Jesus with years of ministry experience what they thought. Here’s what they said.
What is the biggest barrier followers of Jesus experience in having an everyday faith? And how can this be overcome?
‘One major factor is the constant messaging of our culture that implies that God doesn’t know best, so we should make different choices instead. God doesn’t know best about our financial lives, or our sexual lives, or our work lives, or our family lives. It’s an old temptation—the First Temptation. But it’s constant.’
– John Stackhouse, author of 9 books, Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University and panel guest on ABC’s Q and A.
‘Perhaps the biggest thing facing Christians is how their faith shapes and influences their work life and home life. What does it mean to live as a Christian and to follow Jesus. Not just what to believe and regularly worship, but how does my life convey the story and glory of Jesus Christ.’
– Michael Bird, New Testament scholar and lecturer in Theology at Ridley College, Melbourne, and has authored or edited 30 books.
‘I don’t know if I could narrow it down to one barrier but a very big one is the Christians continual temptation to fit in the culture. We want to integrate our Christian faith so that we do not look different. We don’t want to be thought of as weird so we are continually compromising our faith so that we can be excepted by the rest of the world. Whether it’s the use of money, sex, or entertainment, we rarely find ourselves redeeming these to the glory of God, but integrating our lifestyle to accommodate world.’
– Michael Patton, Founder and President of Reclaiming the Mind and Credo House of Theology ministries, developer of The Theology Program, host of Theology Unplugged and author of 2 books.
‘Biggest barrier is false expectations of what God promises as normal – the danger is we veer from one eschatological extreme to the other without having clear biblical moorings for what is normal. So the response must at least be a question of allowing Scripture to recalibrate our expectations’
‘I believe there are two key challenges for everyone seeking to live out a Christian life and follow Jesus. First is to be clear on what Jesus taught. So much of what we read and hear is making Jesus into the personification of current political correctness. There is an attempt to make Jesus’ life and teaching socially acceptable for the era in which we live.
The only way around this is to read what Jesus said yourself. Read the gospels, consider for yourself Jesus’ teaching and how he lived.
Secondly make a choice to live with courage. A verse not often quoted but which is becoming more and more relevant is John 15:18 “If the world hates you keep in mind it hated me first’. We should do all we can not to be offensive to people. But when the basic teaching of Jesus offends people we should not resile from the words of Jesus or what he taught. If being popular in contemporary culture is important to you, you will face many challenges to live out Jesus’ words on a daily basis.
Everyday faith and belief will bring each of us into conflict with some values of western culture. It’s in those times you are called to live with courage.’
Have an insight of your own? Leave a comment below with the biggest barrier you experience and the step you’ve taken to overcome it.