Vision: To Grow Faith
When I was growing up, my Mom had an annual ritual on our birthdays (mine and my two sisters'). She would line us up in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room and measure our height, making a mark on the door frame for each of us, and comparing our height to our last birthday. We could see the growth that had taken place in the past year. Some years the marks were pretty close together, and other years there had been a growth spurt and the marks were much farther apart.
Living things grow. The age of a tree can be determined by the growth rings in the cross section of its trunk when it either dies or is harvested. Seedlings planted in April or May become full-grown tomato plants with those good Indiana tomatoes ripening on them in July!
Living faith also grows. Martin Luther King, Jr. said once, “We ain't what we oughta be. We ain't what we want to be. We ain't what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain't what we was.” God grows His children by the work of His Holy Spirit to become more and more Christlike over time. The Fruit of the Spirit grows in us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
Christlike character grows in us. Spiritual maturity grows in us as we learn to trust God in all circumstances - even in the raging storms of life. We either grow, or we die. Because living things grow.
Perhaps the saddest dynamic of current American Christianity (the Christianity I know and am part of) is its consumerism. Too many of us treat Church like a concert or a movie - we come as spectators to be entertained, and we complain if the service isn't great. We can fall into the trap of treating our faith like a trip to a restaurant. We want to be wined, dined and entertained. And sadly the result is often biblical illiteracy and spiritual immaturity.
Truth is, the service in a Worship Service is our service to the Lord, not the church's service to us and our families. Worship is akin to a Sunday morning date with God, reconnecting and expressing our love to Him. It was never meant to be our only source of spiritual nourishment and growth, nor was it meant to be a weekly trip to the spiritual supermarket to pick and choose the blessings we want for the week.
Disciples of Jesus Christ Know Christ - we establish a faith relationship with Him that redeems our soul from sin and death and begins a lifetime of spiritual growth. It's not an accident that Jesus told Nicodemus "You must be born again." Spiritual birth produces spiritual infants who must grow and learn to become spiritual adults.
Disciples of Jesus Christ Grow Faith - we worship and pray and serve and participate in Bible studies or small groups and practice a daily quiet time with the Lord. All these spiritual disciplines are like going to the gym and working out. They grow us. They grow our soul. They move us toward Christlikeness.
If there were a spiritual mark on the door post marking my spiritual maturity last year, I wonder where the current mark would be in relation to the last one? Am I more mature than I was a year ago? Have I grown in Christlike character? Am I stuck? Or worse yet, am I going backward?
The good news is there is grace for us when we take Jesus for granted and go through periods of stagnation or backsliding in our walk with Him. We can always begin again. We can open our Bible, read and study and pray, and jump start our spiritual growth. We can engage in a Great Banquet weekend or Walk to Emmaus and kick start our growth. We can sign up for Bible Study Fellowship or jump into a small group at church and grow together with others. We can relate to church as eager participants and not just as spectators, watching from the sidelines. We can serve and grow. It's not too late to become more like Jesus!
Whatever the next step is for me or for you in becoming more like Jesus, let's begin fresh in 2022 and Grow Faith. Let's look back a year from now and measure the growth in feet and yards, and not just in inches and millimeters. Let's seek Jesus with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. And let's leave up to God the Christlikeness He grows into our lives as we pursue Him passionately.
To God be the glory!