Friday, April 26, 2013

How Do We Grow?

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 1 Timothy 4:7

Today’s Gmail is adapted from blogger Daniel Darling. (Don’t you love that name?)  Easily the biggest weight carried by your pastors is the spiritual growth of our own soul and the spiritual growth of the church entrusted to our care. How’s your growth coming along? How does a person grow spiritually? Spiritual growth or sanctification can be defined as the supernatural process by which the Holy Spirit forms us into Christ’s image. Growth is primarily a work that God does in us–I can’t make myself grow.

And yet you can’t escape the New Testament’s overwhelming pulse that God commands us to intentionally pursue Him.  That growth is, in some ways, our responsibility as Christians. There are quite a few texts that illuminate this, but 1 Timothy 4:7 comes to mind. Paul here tells us to “discipline ourselves to godliness.” In other words, yes, the Holy Spirit does the work in us, but we also have some part in the process.
So how do we grow? Maybe a better question is this: what are some ways to ensure that we WON’T grow spiritually? Here are five ways to ensure that you won’t grow:
  1. Don’t Be Intentional with Your Spiritual Life. Frankly, it’s a bit alarming how little Christians prioritize their spiritual growth. If you don’t prioritize a study of God’s Word, prayer, and the spiritual disciplines, you will not see continued growth. If you don’t want to grow in Christ, make sure your spiritual life is something that gets the leftovers of your times and energy and effort. Feed your soul on the light fare and junk food.
  2. Always Hang Out with People Just Like You. One of the ways God stretches us is by placing us with people who are radically different from us. We live in a world of radical individualization and if we are not careful, this can creep into our lives, especially as we get older and more secure in our worldview. We’ll be tempted to hang out only with people who agree with us and reinforce our own biases. This will ensure that we have the exact same opinion on every single issue as we did five years ago. It will also keep us from being exposed to people from differing cultures, tribes, and perspectives. If you don’t want to grow, make sure you never have conversations with people who disagree with you, radically. Yeah, do that. This is a real growth killer.
  3. Never take any risks. If you want to ensure that you are the same exact person you were five years ago, be so conservative in everything you do that you don’t take any risks. But here’s the thing, if you construct a life with minimal risk, you’re essentially editing out the need for faith. Imagine if Abraham stayed in Ur, because Ur was more secure. Would he have experienced all the richness of God’s love? Would he have grown into the mighty man of faith we see in Hebrews 11? No, he wouldn’t have. We probably wouldn’t have heard of him, would we? Take some risks in life. Put yourself in some situations, relationships, ministry assignments that are completely and totally foreign, that will require maximum effort and knee-knocking faith.
  4. Keep patting yourself on the back. There is a reason that the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). You only grow and you only find wisdom for life when you realize that you need to grow and that you need wisdom for life. If you don’t want to really grow spiritually, keep thinking you know stuff. Wisdom only comes after you’ve bowed your knee in humility to the God who knows all things. As long as you think you are the master of your universe and that you don’t need any help with anything, you will ensure that you will not grow.
  5. Chase trends and “diss” faithfulness. If you want to have a life of unfruitfulness, keep chasing new trends and paradigms. Keep looking for the easy way out, the shortcut. People who stay the same are people who don’t like to work hard at growth, who don’t want to put in the blood, sweat, and tears of a life of impact. People love to talk big about how we are going to change the world–but but often to the neglect of faithfulness and steadiness like previous generations. If you want an insignificant life of spurts and starts and stops, keep chasing the next big thing, keep avoiding the hard choices, delayed gratification, the sweat, the grind of daily life. A long obedience in the same direction, year after year, ensures a life of depth, of weight, of character.
For every PCC’er that is struggling to grow spiritually, to develop your passion and abandon for Jesus, thank you!  It matters more than you realize and your labor is NOT in vain!
This matters so much, PCC!  The best thing I can do for my family, in my role as your pastor, for this church and for this community is intentionally posture my soul before the Lord so that I am a growing follower of Jesus.  This not only has earthly ramifications, but eternal ones as well. We will be studying that this weekend, looking at the last parable Jesus told before He entered Jerusalem. It is a doozy!  Read up in Luke 19:11-27 and come hungry!

I love being your pastor!