Are you growing in your Christian life? Sometimes we may feel that we have stalled or plateaued in our Christian walk, but the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:17-18 and Heb 4:11, that there are only two directions we can head. We are either growing in our faith or we are falling away. I have heard it likened to peddling up a hill, we either go forwards, or we go backwards.
So how does growth come about?
1) God brings about growth in an individual (Philippians 1:6). His goal for us is to be conformed into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
2) As our passion and love for Christ grows The Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-5 is warned as they have forgotten their first love of Christ and are caught up in works, even though they are doing lots of good things they are at risk of falling away as they are not serving for the right reasons. We often move from a faith that is based on love of Jesus to one that is defined by responsibilities (rosters), activities, books and conferences.
3) We have a role in our growth Phil 2:12-13 ‘we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling’. We are saved by Jesus alone, but our sanctification (becoming holy) is something that we work towards.
4) We grow as the church grows. We are all parts of the one body of Christ and we grow together (2 Col 2:18-19). God uses others to grow us and us to grow others. Think about times where you might have been challenged by what someone said in church or Bible Study. If the church is not growing, then it is much harder for us to grow also.
What things help us to grow?
1) Prayer. In Luke 11 we are told of the persistent man who goes at midnight to ask his friend for a loaf of bread, afterwards Jesus says to ‘ask and it will be given to you’. We need to be making big requests of God and be persistent- He can and will answer our prayers.
2) Reading our bibles and meditating on what we read. 2 Tim 3:15-16. God’s word has the power to save and bring us to maturity.
3) Through suffering. Romans 5:1-5.
4) Through confession of sin. As we acknowledge our sins before God, we recognise our need for His mercy and the grace that He has shown us in Jesus (Luke 22:31-34)
5) Evangelism. As we tell others the gospel, we are reminded of what God has done for us in Christ
6) Sharing our lives with other Christians. When we are open about our struggles and joys and share the truth in love it points us to Christ and encourages us in our Christian lives.
What stops us from growing?
1) We don’t recognise that we need to be growing and the danger we are in if we aren’t. We can slip into a comfortable pattern of church and possibly Bible study attendance—we do our rostered duty on a Sunday and feel we have had our religious input for the week. We forget that God rightfully deserves more from us. He wants a relationship with us, not a once or twice a week appointment.
2) We get caught up in issues, maybe a relationship conflict with someone at church and that becomes our focus, rather than our relationship with God.
3) We are busy and God isn’t a priority. We forget the bigger, eternal picture, that this life is short compared to eternity and the fact that one day there will be a judgement day. Instead we are caught up with work, renovating our houses, running kids to activities or wasting time on the internet.
4) We want to look like we have it all together, so we don’t share when we are struggling in our Christian lives and instead stick to the superficial conversation topics of family, work or the weather or we avoid people altogether.
5) We aren’t sure what to say to people to ask them about their Christian lives and so it is easier not to ask
We won’t grow unless we want to, but remember if we aren’t moving forwards in our Christian lives, we are slowly and inevitably moving backwards.
So can I encourage you to be reading your Bible, pray for growth in yourself and others at church. Join a Bible study group if you aren’t already in one or meet with someone to read the Bible. Make conversations about Jesus and our relationship with Him a priority when we chat.
Decide on a spiritual goal for the next six months eg. invite my non-Christian neighbour over for coffee to build my relationship with them, read through a book of the bible, ask a friend at church how their quiet times are going etc.
Work towards achieving it and get someone to keep you accountable to it.
May we continue to grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus.
Alison Roberts. This article is a summary of the book ‘You can really grow’ by John Hindley.