Feeling Resistance to God and the Church
Ever just not want to go to church on a Sunday? Or feel a strong resistance within yourself to avoid the prayer meeting or small group meeting? Pretty much every Christian has felt this at some point in their life. It’s one thing if the feelings of resistance are rare and only when you’re really tired or simply need a break, but it’s another thing if the feelings of resistance keep nagging and don’t go away. In the same way it’s normal for every spouse to have a tough moment with their loved one or desire some time alone every now and then, but if there are consistent feelings of resistance then clearly there are problems that need to be addressed.
So why do some people experience those continual nagging feelings of resistance against God or the church? Is there something wrong with God? Or is their church unhealthy (this can be the case, especially if the church is controlling, dishonoring, or simply dead)? If the church is relatively healthy (no church is perfect), then the reasons for resistance could be one or more of the following…
- Spiritual attack. The devil doesn’t want God’s people meeting together and showing love to one another. The devil loves division and isolation. When these feelings of resistance are shared by other solid people in the church, then that is usually a clear sign of spiritual attack. It’s best to share with some people you trust and pray together that all resistance be broken and that you all experience fresh joy again.
- Pouring out but not being poured into. This is usually the number one reason for people feeling resistance. We all have a love tank with a limit in regards to how much love we can give. For a hurt orphan, their love tank is very small so even giving just a small hug or smile is a huge act of love for them. But for a mature, healthy Christian, there should be far more patience, joy, peace, and love stored up and ready to pour out. But regardless of how big a person’s love tank is, if we aren’t receiving but are only giving then at some point we are going to run dry. This is when people say things like, “I’m going through a dry season.” Love is selfless and giving. But once a person runs out of love, then they become selfish and needy. John 15:4-5 states that those who aren’t abiding in God (aren’t receiving from Him) “can do nothing.” In other words, a person who isn’t receiving from God has zero to give. At this point resistance can get strong. I see this all the time with orphanage volunteers and workers who aren’t consistently walking with God. The kids at the orphanages are so needy that they drain the workers and volunteers of all the love they have. For the workers and volunteers who aren’t spending time with God and aren’t asking God for love, they tend to grow jaded quickly and become apathetic to the kids’ needs. Some of them even turn to worldly things and sin to try and satisfy themselves. But only true satisfaction and strength can come from God. This is when we need to pray the words of Psalm 51:12 – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” If our joy isn’t in God then eventually we will turn to sin to fill us up, like David did. It was when David came to his senses after his sin with Bathsheba that he wrote Psalm 51. Ask God for love. Ask God to restore your joy. He is the true source! He may use church leaders or friends or other people to remind you of His love, but you cannot be dependent on people or the church to be filled. Your main source of love must be from your personal relationship with Him.
- Drifting from God. This one can be a bit more sneaky. You might be consistent with your quiet times and be continuing to serve in the ways you had served before, but along the way you gradually drifted from God and lost your first love (Revelation 2:4). What was once done out of love for God is now done out of routine or to please men. Anytime you’re serving to please men or to please yourself then you will eventually end up feeling resistance or feeling jaded. If you rely on man for your satisfaction or your approval, then along the way you will be let down. Only God can truly satisfy us. (I preached a sermon Drifting From God: http://www.comequicklyministries.org/blog/dt_portfolio/drifting-from-god/). If the Bible is no longer alive to you, then make sure to pray daily for God to speak in a fresh way to you. God will refresh you! Asking is the most important step.
A church or fellowship, no matter how dead or unhealthy it might be, should not have power over your relationship with God. It can be discouraging to attend a service that is boring and religious or it can be exhausting if the church has you serving nonstop and you can’t feel the Spirit’s presence, but if God has called you to that church then you should expect that He will give you all the refreshment and strength you need. I personally don’t go to church to get filled up. As a pastor I go to church to give. People don’t run up to the pastor to pray for him and encourage him; they run up to the pastor to be prayed for and receive encouragement. I’m not bitter about that. I’m blessed to give (though I do know my limit). My source of spiritual strength is my time connecting with the Lord during the week. Apart from him I can do nothing. With Him, I know a love that is better than life. Spending time with friends is good and rest is needed as well, but it’s my relationship with the Lord that fuels my life.