A few weeks ago, my pastor made an interesting statement, “An obstacle is what the eye sees when it is distracted from the goal.” The more I have thought about this, the more I believe the statement to be true – especially for those of us who call ourselves Christians. But how can we know the difference between an obstacle and the goal?
According to my Reformed brothers and sisters, the highest end of man (humanity) is to glorify God and to fully enjoy him (God) forever. This sounds a whole lot like “the goal.”
Now, figuring out what the obstacles are is a tad more difficult.
For example, if Sunday worship helps us to glorify God, then it cannot be an obstacle, right? If this is the case, then why do we spend so much time arguing about worship? Some folks want their worship experience to be quiet and reflective; well others want their worship to be loud and expressive with a little dancing thrown in. Does this make worship a means to the goal or an obstacle?
Worship is simple compared with some of the other issues faced by the church. Is God a God of life or choice? Should we pray for victory in war or the courage to be a people of peace regardless of what others have done?
Keeping our eyes on the goal is important, but obstacles are a fact of life. Debating the merits of the obstacles is an inescapable reality. Is it possible that healthy discussions about obstacles help us to better see and understand the goal?
Maybe the problem isn’t the obstacle itself, but rather how we choose to engage the obstacle.
Can you imagine a church where people with different understandings and beliefs about the obstacles choose to worship together anyway?