6 Most Common Obstacles to Christian Growth
In the body of Christ, tens of thousands of believers are living defeated lives. Many are struggling in every area of their existence-home, work, and community. Although many are faithful to Sunday service, when it comes to doing the will of God , they are missing in action. The preacher may have known this for years. He often wonders why people are still struggling with the same problems after all this time. However, it is impossible to live a victorious life without developing the Christ character. Christ is the only one who has overcome the world. Therefore, Christians must follow the mind and thoughts of Christ in order to overcome themselves. If not, we will constantly be held captive by worldly deceptions, temptations, and pleasures of this world. This will only make developing the character of Christ more and more challenging. Nevertheless, in order to grow in Christ's character, believers must consider several reasons for their stunted spiritual growth and overcome them.
One of the major hindrances to developing the Christ character today is the overwhelming teaching of prosperity doctrine. This teaching became widely known in the deep south in the early seventies by a few well-meaning evangelist. The concept of seed faith was born. For example, giving money to the kingdom of God was compared to planting a seed in a ground. Believers were taught to believe that money could be giving to God in exchange for deliverance from poverty, sickness, disease, and whatever else a believer desired. However, Christ went about healing and delivering without asking others to sow a money seed. He freely gave of himself daily.
Tithing and offering are an obligatory practice for all Christians. The rent must be pain and the gospel must go fourth. But the over emphasis on the message of prosperity has overthrown the true focus of tens of thousands of believers. As Christians, our focus should be on establishing the character of Christ within our hearts rather than giving money with the intention of getting delivered from our adversities. What about believers in other parts of the world who have no seed faith money ? Struggles are necessary for the emergence of God's character within the believer. Following Christ requires all believers to avoid the easy path and to endure the offense the cross. On the cross the flesh is crucified and character is developed. Christ didn't preach prosperity gospel. He taught others to love one another and to have faith in God. Believers must follow after Christ's example of they desire his character within them. Christ's life and focus promoted the things of the kingdom.
Christian Bible Belt
Casual Christianity is another hindrance that keeps believers from developing Christian character. The believer is unwilling to give Christ complete control in her life. This type of Christianity is comfortable with the thoughts and ideas of the world. However, Christians who practice casual Christianity misrepresent the nature of Christ by taking a liberal attitude toward sin. Outside of the church walls, their lifestyles are taunted with ungodliness-gossiping, condemning, and serving themselves. These negative activities make them ineffective witnesses for the kingdom of God and hard to distinguish from the unsaved. Their focus is not on what pleases God but on what pleases themselves.
In casual Christianity the believer hides the life of Christ within himself until Sunday arrives. After attending a routine Sunday morning service, the cycle starts again. Throughout the week, casual Christians get caught up in a web of carnal activities , suppressing the power of the Christ nature within themselves and causing the kingdom of God to suffer. They do not honor Christ in their conversations and behavior. Casual Christians often neglect effective prayer , bible study, and meditation in God's word. However, in order to develop the character of Christ the causal Christian must be willing to make it known to the world that the life of Christ lives within him.
Wanda is a beautiful eighteen year old honor student who graduates from high school and decides to attend college. She has been a Christian most of her life, having been raised in the church. She enrolls in the school of education and studies to become a teacher. But after one semester, she concludes that college life isn't for her. Instead, she has an inclination toward fashion and wants to become a top model. Her parents are confused and don't know what has happened to her, but she is determined to do whatever is necessary to make it to the top of the model industry. Her goal is to be in the top five glamour magazines. This illustration may be a little extreme, but the pursuit of wrong ambition has destroyed the spiritual life of many Christians. As believers we have become too complacent with the things of the world. Many believers never stop to think about how their career choices can ruin the testimony of Christ within their lives. Many believers make the mistake of choosing their careers based on the degree of honor and glory that they can receive from the world. This is a form of idolatry. Pursuit of wrong ambition will prevent the character of Christ from forming within us. As Christians our primary focus must be on the work of the kingdom. Every endeavor that does not support the kingdom of God must be avoided if we want to honor Christ. Our ambition must be chosen based upon their potential to represent the kingdom of God. Doctors, lawyers, school teachers, and social workers are all careers that can help support our Christian walk and give glory to God.
Movies, music, concerts, blackberries, trends, and fashions are worldly entertainments that can steal our attention from the important things we need to do for God. None of these entertainments are wrong within themselves but when they becomes idols they hinder our Christian growth. The enemy's purpose is redirect our attention from God's will in as many ways as possible. In fact, as long as Satan can entertain us ninety percent of the time with these allurements, he can control our spiritual development. He knows that people are always looking for happiness and excitement in new things, new creativity, and new gadgets. However, the majority of Man's creativity and inventions has caused much pain, heartache, and even death. Thousands of people die each year in car accidents as a result of cell phone, ipod, and blackberry use while driving. Many of our minds are corrupted by bad music and movies that plant suggestive messages within our consciousness. Excessive attraction to these entertainments are nothing more than distractions from growing in the character of Christ.
Moreover, millions of dollars are spent on fashion and fitness in order to look perfect for the world. However, Christians must not fall prey to these worldly misconceptions. This isn’t to say the all pleasures are evil. Some music, movies, and fashions portray a positive messages, yet believers can not make these things their idols. Christ should be a believers only idol. Our time spent with him means more than the world can offer. Worldly pleasures can take our minds off the things of God and hinder our development into the spiritual maturity. As Christians we must watch our time spent with worldly entertainments. Remember we are in the world but not of it.
A Book for Becoming Fearless in Confronting all Intimidations
Doubt and Unbelief
Despite all the wonders of the heavens and earth-the magnificent solar system, the beauty of flowers and trees, the glory of the oceans and seas, and all the mysteries of life, doubt and unbelief remain a great hindrance to developing the character of Christ. We, as believers, would rather believe what we see and hear from the world rather than what God has told us. On earth, Christ believed that all things were possible when God was at the helm. In fact, Jesus proved this mindset by walking on the water, raising the dead, healing the sick, calming the storm and performing countless other miracles. These acts of faith were performed on a regular basis, not occasionally. Christ was always out in the towns and villages representing God by displaying His glory. This should be the intention of every believer. But as long as our faith is shaken by the threat of man, circumstance, or condition, we will not be able to model the character of Christ. Every Christians must bring his doubts and unbelief under the authority of the power of God. God has already given us the victory in our situations and circumstances if we stand on his word, no matter how dark and threatening our challenges may appear. Christians who are dedicated to God's truth will can truly testify that God has given them the power to overcome every evil situation. Therefore to develop the character of Christ, doubt and unbelief must be substituted by and unconquerable faith in God.
Fear and Shame
Fear and shame are two of the top adversaries to spiritual growth. Fear of man, fear of ridicule, and fear of rejection are Satan's weapons to keep believers in a spiritual infancy stage. Fear and shame robs the believer of the glory of God in every area of her life-relationships, home, work, and community. These negative qualities leave the believer weak and confused when it comes to moving forward in the things of God. As believers, we have many fears. We fear tomorrow instead of appreciating the moment; we fear being hurt by people instead of loving them. Our thoughts are constantly out of control with anxieties and self-consciousness instead of with a calm and peacefulness of God's kingdom. Nevertheless, in order to develop the character of Christ believers must eliminate fear and shame from their thoughts. Christ has already giving us the gift of a sound mind with power, completely void of intimidation. Christians should feel good about representing Christ within their lives, despite being laughed at and called a holy roller or a Jesus Freak. The world has nothing to offer the believer compared to the glory of the Christ character. Therefore, we must not avoid ridicule and rejection for God's kingdom. We must not fear man or conditions as long as the will of God is being performed. All Christians should be aware that trouble comes with practicing Christianity. In our to be like Christ we must be willing to take part in his suffering. The more shame and hardship we endure for God's kingdom the greater the character of Christ is formed within us. This means that we must not avoid fear and shame we must run toward it and conquer it.
When the body of Christ begins to truly examine the reasons why the church isn’t developing the character of Christ, preachers and ministers will begin to focus and concentrate on the things that concern the kingdom of God instead of the things that concerns our prosperity in this world. These things are only considered as byproducts to those who give the
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