WHAT BARRIERS CAN KEEP US FROM GOD AND OTHERS? (MATTHEW 8:5-13)
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel!” (Matthew 8:10)
LIFE IS FULL OF NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL BARRIERS (JOHN 4:1-26)
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” (John 4:9)
The centurion could have let many obstacles stand between him and Jesus-pride, doubt, money, language, distance, time, self-sufficiency, power, race. But he didn’t. If he did not let these barriers block his approach to Jesus, we don’t need to either. What keeps you from Christ?
SOCIAL AND SPIRITUAL BARRIERS ARE REAL.
This woman (1) was a Samaritan, a member of the hated mixed race, (2) was known to be living in sin, and (3) was in a public place. No respectable Jewish man would talk to a woman under such circumstances. But Jesus did. The gospel is for every person regardless of race, social position, or past sins. We must be prepared to share this gospel at any time and in any place. Jesus crossed all barriers to share the gospel, and we who follow him must do no less.
HOW CAN BARRIERS HELP US GROW? (JUDGES 3:1-6)
These people were left to test the Israelites-to see whether they would obey the commands the LORD had given to their ancestors through Moses. (Judges 3:4)
BARRIERS CAN BE CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME.
We learn from an earlier chapter that these enemy nations were still in the land because the Israelites had failed to obey God and drive them out. Now God would allow the enemies to remain in order to “test” the Israelites; that is, to give them an opportunity to exercise faith and obedience. By now the younger generation that had not fought in the great battles of conquest was coming of age. It was their job to complete the conquest of the land. There were many obstacles yet to be overcome in their new homeland. How they would handle these obstacles would be a test of their faith.
BARRIERS ALSO REMIND US TO RELY ON GOD.
Perhaps God has left obstacles in your life-hostile people, difficult situations, baffling problems-to allow you to develop faith and obedience. They can be overcome with his help.
HOW CAN BARRIERS BE OVERCOME? (DEUTERONOMY 1:19-36)
Don’t be afraid! The LORD your God is going before you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you again and again here in the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place. (Deuteronomy 1:29-31)
GOD IS GREATER THAN ANY BARRIER (MATTHEW 27:45-56)
At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. (Matthew 27:51)
The spies were not sent into the land to determine whether they should enter, but where they should enter. Upon returning, however, most of the spies concluded that the land was not worth the obstacles. God would give the Israelites the power to conquer the land, but they were afraid of the risk and decided not to enter. God gives us the power to overcome our obstacles, but like the Israelites who were filled with fear and skepticism, we often let difficulties control our life. Following God regardless of the difficulties is the way to have courageous, overcoming faith.
GOD HAS ALREADY DESTROYED THE GREATEST BARRIER.
The temple had three main parts-the courts, the Holy Place (where only the priests could enter), and the Most Holy Place (where only the high priest could enter, and only once a year, to atone for the sins of the nation-Leviticus 16:1-35). The curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn in two at Christ’s death, symbolizing that the barrier between God and humanity was removed. Now all people are free to approach God because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins (see Hebrews 9:1-14; 10:19-22).