Chapter 11: Seven Obstacles of Christian Faith

The cause of Christianity is Jesus’ responsibility––having done everything for humanity’s salvation. Faith should be appreciated in the context of sincerity, as one cannot have faith without understanding reasons for having faith. This calls for deeper understanding.

Many Christians declare tenacious allegiance to Christ but reveal superstitious tendencies only. Others get imprisoned in past sins, assuming that salvation comes through their efforts:

“For God so loved the world; that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 KJV).

Nonetheless, condemnation comes. The formidable question is who and why others become condemned when salvation is available to everyone. The answer lies in lacking faith. We are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise (Gal. 3:29). This assertion is anchored on faith alone, giving assurance of deliverance, as promised to Abraham.

This is motivating––though Abraham should not be viewed as a model of Christian living. Nonetheless, it is well-documented that Abraham did not entertain reasons to doubt God––with whom he was communicating (Gen. 22:1–19).

Abraham may not have been more ethical than his peers. But he truly believed in God, doing what others may have considered strange. We are not different from Abraham when behaving similarly. But with the privilege of having observed salvation processes through Jesus.

God communicates as clearly as facilitated by one’s attentive and sincere listening. While not sensible to others, the message is clear to those concerned. Abraham’s logical submission to God’s calling is different from illogical hypnoses from other people’s manipulative ideas.

One becomes Abraham’s seed at conversion when not doubting God. If Abraham was tested––yet attached to promises extended to all nations (Gen. 22:12), those called by God are also tested, whichever way. But all humans have access to salvation as pre-planned by God:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, by his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given…”(Eph. 1:3-6 NIV).

Predestination does not necessarily imply having special people predestined for salvation––while the rest are poised for condemnation. This is as some might suppose––thereby, contradicting John 3:16-17. Neither does this imply avoiding responsibility––as banking on predestination.

The only undesirable obstacle towards deliverance is lacking faith, resulting from dishonesty or entertaining contradictory opinions. God cannot bear with such behaviour (Rev. 3:15-16), which caused Israel’s failures (Heb. 4:1-2). Those called today––ahead of everyone––are like those sent to survey Canaan to confirm provisions of the Promised Land (Num. 13 and 14).

Ten of the twelve came with a bad report, concluding that the intimidating giants were more powerful than God’s people––suggesting that God had been untruthful. They did not have faith––notwithstanding having observed several miracles proving God’s supremacy. The bad report affected the rest of the nation of Israel, except Caleb and Joshua––later granted survival to cross over with the next generation.

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Predestination is meant to be accessed by the entire humanity. Failures are a result of lack of faith. Through the cross, God outstretches tolerance––only barring those deliberately spurning the offer, like the Israelites (Heb. 10:26-27).

God foreknew the selected individuals, filling up various positions throughout the ages. Good and bad people. But the overall grand plan is to save humanity, including those who pierced Him. The following are seven obstacles––traps of which current Christians are not spared:

Obstacle #1: Unforgiving attitude. To be forgiven by God, requires intentional forbearance with others––even with good reason against doing so (Matt. 6:12). God’s mind is revealed in that when Adam and Eve sinned, it was God who took the responsibility to look for them at their hiding place, rather than them looking for God (Gen. 3:9).

True Christians seek to forgive, even before offenders ask for forgiveness. However, the issue of forgiving, ought to be regarded as most junior in terms of appreciating the responsibility bestowed on those having accepted the calling into Christianity.

Forgiving someone implies superiority, yet this cannot be true when still surviving in the flesh. True Christians seek to dislodge offenders out of their chute––rather than being obsessed with personal feelings. Forgiving should be based on understanding the person being forgiven and facilitating his release from the bondage of sin.

A Christian cannot lose decency because someone has lost his/her decency. The most significant factor is that the offender was created in God’s image—needing love and respect at all times––regardless of his/her momentary loss of dignity. We are our brothers’ keepers (1 John 3:16).

Obstacle #2: Desiring recognition. Those desiring recognition are poised for Christ’s rejection (Matt. 7:21-23). Those expecting accolades for great achievements in Christianity, get rejected––even when having worked hard in Jesus’ name. Their reward ends with natural praise from those awestruck by their admirable achievements (Matt. 6:1-4).

Accessing Christ’s power is possible even for one’s selfish ends (Phil. 1:15-18). But that does not mean automatic salvation. Those carrying Jesus’ faith direct all praises to Christ. Jesus gave a parable highlighting futility in desiring recognition ahead of others (Matt. 20:1-16).

Being used by God is only a privilege to be accepted with humility when giving glory to God. Naturally, praises that come from other people make one feel good; but, certainly not when considering what Jesus said in Matt. 5:10-12.

Obstacle #3: Self-pity. Some remain in bereavement, long after having suffered misfortunes. This assumes them being the only ones having gone through such misfortunes, throughout the entire planet.

Such people are susceptible to even going so far as cursing their loved ones for not sympathising with them enough. They also censure God for not providing them with blessings, viewed as being enjoyed by their peers.

The opposite is true for those carrying the faith of Jesus, who, when faced with unprecedented traumas of the cross, displayed compassion for others, instead (Luke 23:28-31). The life of a Christian is not necessarily intended for comfort in self-pity (Matt. 5:11-12).

Obstacle #4: Degrading other people. Negatively judging other people, puts one in a superior position and one cannot do that without pride. Christ described this behaviour as the log, compared with speck––when failing to take the responsibility to help such sinners out of their appalling sinful conducts (Matt. 7:1-5).

Moses and Aaron did not enter into the Promised Land because of their error at the waters of Meribah (Num. 20:9-12). “Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” (vs. 12 NIV).

Moses’ leadership had previously been punctuated with advocacy (Exod. 32:11-13 & Num. 14:13). Nevertheless, his only stumble was exclusively on the incident at the waters of Meribah. Moses failed to follow clear instructions, due to his emotional reaction against the Israelites’ poor conduct––thereby uttering non-advocacy words—with Aaron conspiring:

“Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff.” (Num. 20:10 KJV).

The display of anger by Moses implies that the two gentlemen considered themselves spiritually superior to the rest. This may have, as well, been the case. But how could that have been possible, without God’s involvement?

Putting oneself in a favourable light against others, on matters of faith is folly. Jesus, whose role is advocacy (1 John 2:1), categorically stated that no one comes to Him, unless drawn by God (John 6:44). This strips us of all our human intelligence, leaving God in charge of everything.

However, the instructions in James 4:11–12 may exclude the rebuke against hypocrisy, as Jesus demonstrated (Matt. 23:13-17). Peter, though later being censured, similarly, by his fellow apostle Paul (Gal. 2:11-14), also rightfully rebuked Simon the sorcerer, (Acts 8:18-23). True love entails committing oneself to being used by God for others to be drawn.

Paul also surmised the use of caution when helping one another in Christianity (Gal. 6:1-3). The aspect of judging develops bad feelings against those being negatively judged, confirming failure in Christian responsibilities. All humans are caught up in inextricable sinful conditions. Empathy is the only one that serves to keep God’s people in check.

Obstacle #5: Self-degradation. Generally, this obstacle manifests itself in fear. It encompasses the fear of the unknown, the fear of human authority and the fear of the majority. Such fears cause the inability to make rational decisions on critical issues of faith. David’s encounter with the towering Goliath demonstrated being without this obstacle (1 Samuel 17:26-37).

Saul reacted differently when approached by Samuel with an offer of being the first king of Israel: “Saul answered, ‘But am I not a Benjamite from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?’” (1 Sam. 9:21 NIV).

Saul assumed that inherently, he ought to have had special qualities presumed as necessary for regal responsibilities over Israel, without God’s involvement.

This was not a sign of humility as most people might suppose––but a weakness exposing self-degradation. Saul sought to have faith in himself––not imagining that God could sufficiently be trusted with what appeared as a gigantic responsibility.

Self-degradation is one of the tools Satan uses, so that even the naturally gifted, avoid coming forward where there is a need. Very few people are willing to step out doing what is necessary for humanity’s benefit.

However, with Jesus’ faith, most people could accomplish more than envisaged, in agreement with Paul: “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

The psalmist declares: “I Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14a NIV). Those without that reality, take comfort in eulogising the so-called religious gurus, assuming that to be another way of displaying piety.

But Jesus left a perfect example of avoiding self-degradation. Though not emerging from the high echelons of the recognized religious establishment, Jesus disregarded all that and stood by God’s will. A person of faith stands willing to experience anything.

Obstacle #6: Doubt. Peter—who identified Jesus as Christ ahead of others (Matt. 16:16) ––had faith enabling him to walk on seawater (Matt. 14:27-31). But, Christ had to rescue him in imminent danger: ‘“You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?”’ (Vs. 29-31).

Where did Peter’s doubt come from? He had initially stepped out doing what others could not dare attempt. Doubt implies having two opinions in one. Among these seven greatest obstacles of the Christian faith, doubt should be ranked as the second worst. Sequentially, doubt fits well as second worst, behind Pride––the kingpin of all other weaknesses.

Obstacle #7: Pride: This implies viewing oneself as better than others, due to some past achievements––making the individual feel superior––thereby, unable to consider other people’s opinions: “Because you say, ‘I am wealthy, and have become rich, and need nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17 KJV).

But a person can still be proud even without achieving anything. One of the reasons that the Pharisees failed to appreciate Jesus’ supremacy, was pride. Also, the reason people cannot venture into what is considered daring is pride, just as fear is induced by pride.

The preceding six obstacles stem from pride, an attribute without which, any person can achieve God’s Kingdom. As long as one becomes aware of these deadly obstacles, the Christian journey becomes enjoyable. The ability to eradicate these obstacles enables the reality of experiencing the effects of the new civilization. This is effectively cast in assurance, only for those Christians who are committed to humility.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99

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