HERE*S HOW TO ENJOY A GROWING CHRISTIAN LIFE!
Facts about GROWING in Christ
It takes time.
We all start out as "babes in Christ," and it takes time to grow up just as it takes time for a baby to become a child, then a youth, then an adult. We don*t learn everything all at once, and we stumble and fall a lot at first, as all babies do. That*s OK. Just like the baby, we have to pick ourselves up (or let somebody pick us up), and start again. Sometimes we even bruise a knee, scrape off some spiritual skin, or even break an arm. That*s OK too. The bruises wear off, the scrapes heal, and the broken bones knit. That also takes time. But we don*t quit living and we don*t quit growing. We wait, we heal, and we keep trusting our Mom and Dad (our Heavenly Father) to help us grow.
Growth is gradual.
We don*t get "BIG" overnight. In fact, to the child at the time, it seems as if nothing is happening at all. He*s "little" all the time. But, to his parents, he*s growing almost too fast. (Yesterday he was their baby, today he*s full grown and on his own!)
We have a different perspective than God. We see our growth from the inside looking out, and it seems so slow. He sees it from outside looking in, and He*s pleased with what He sees. We*re making progress that we don*t see at first, but He sees it, and He helps it along. It*s like planting a seed and "watching" it grow. You don*t see much happening. But, five years later you*ve got a tall tree standing in your back yard.
It*s the same way in Christ: Given the perspective of a few years, you*ll be amazed at how "BIG" you*ve become in Him.
Always remember: When babies start out in the world, they can*t do anything for themselves. It is only gradually that they learn to turn themselves over, then to crawl, then to stand, then to walk, and finally to run. But, once you feel the wind in your face, they know that the running was worth the wait.
Spiritual growth has some BASIC REQUIREMENTS.
We need nursery care.
Babies grow because they*re properly cared for and housed in a nursery that meets their infant needs. That*s one reason that God gave us the church; it*s a nursery for growing Christians. When we*re young in the Lord we need a lot of help, and a lot of tender loving care. Sometimes, when we*re hurting, we need to have our tears wiped away and our spiritual noses wiped. That*s why God gave us pastors and puts more mature Christians around us in the church; they can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That*s why growing Christians grow faster when they*re part of a loving, caring church fellowship: They get the help they need to grow.
We need nourishment.
Babies grow when they receive the proper food. At first, that food is pretty simple stuff. It has to be, because that*s all the infant*s tender system can handle. But, overtime, the child is able to eat solid food, and it isn*t long before he develops a taste for steak!
The Bible is our spiritual food – the nourishment that God has provided for our souls. Someone once said that "The Bible contains milk for babies, bread for youth, and meat for men." We may not understand it all at first, but understanding grows as we grow. It will nourish the growing child of God all the way from infancy to spiritual maturity. There will never come a time, however, when we can stop taking nourishment. When we stop eating, we begin to die.
We need exercise.
When a baby comes into the world, his muscles are like flabby little rubber bands. He can*t stand, let alone walk. At first he can*t even lift his head. But, over time his muscles are strengthened by regular exercise, and – if he keeps exercising – one day they become like steel springs.
The same is true of us spiritually. We can*t handle everything or do everything at first, as much as we might want to. We have to give our spiritual muscles opportunity to develop. We do that through:
(1) Prayer; spiritual exercise in private.
(2) Trusting God with every need and problem; spiritual exercise in God*s gymnasium of faith.
(3) Sharing our life with other believers; spiritual exercise in the training room of life.
(4) Sharing our faith with non-Christians; spiritual exercise on the playing field of life. And during all the time that we*re training (and training lasts for a lifetime) we*re looking to Jesus, our coach, trusting Him to show us what we most need at the moment, and believing that He will show us how best to use our growing spiritual muscles to honor Him.
We need peer assistance.
Children grow best when they*re exposed to other children their own age with similar interests and experiences. When they have positive friendships with positive friends they experience positive growth. Growing up with positive peers helps a child to become a well-rounded adult; growing up with the wrong peers can turn a child*s life into a youthful disaster.
That*s why we need to build Christian friendships: Other believers know what we*re experiencing because they*re going through it too. Or they*ve been there and can help us along the way. Positive Christian friendships provide role models and examples after which to pattern our lives in Christ.
We need education and training.
Infants don*t know everything at first. In fact, they don*t know anything. They have to be taught. They go to school – beginning, remember, with Kindergarten. They start out with simple concepts. At first it*s "two plus two equals four." But, after a while, it*s algebra and geometry. A child*s knowledge grows along with his body and his mind.
The same is true in the spiritual realm. We must learn the basics before we can grasp the etetnal principles. We learn one idea, one truth at a time. And, as Christians – no matter how long we live and how much we learn – we will always go on learning. God is so big, His love is so great, and His plan is so marvelous, that He gives us all of eternity to go on studying and learning about Him.
Spiritual growth is NOT A STRUGGLE, it*s a matter of TRUST!
Infants don*t have to work at growing. they just do.
As a child relies on his parent*s guidance, eats his meals on schedule, exercises every day, (mostly through play at first), goes to school, studies life*s lessons (and does his homework), he just grows. In fact, though he can*t see it, he gets a little bigger every day.
The same thing happens in our spiritual life. When we do what a Christian ought to do(the spiritual disciplines), we just grow. In fact, like a little child, we also grow through the "play" of the Christian life (enjoying our heavenly Father and our new life in Christ). We may not always see it at first, but others can. And the day finally comes when we can look at ourselves and see it too.
God is more committed to our growth as Christians than we are. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to overcome. He wants us to become mature. And He wants us to enjoy the process of growing. In fact, God is committed to investing Himself in us through the whole of our lives with a single purpose – to make us just like His Son, Jesus. He will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
We don*t have to struggle to be like Jesus. We just need to do what Christians ought to do – keep believing in Jesus, read and study God*s Word, pray, go to church, support His work, share our lives, share our faith, and trust God completely – and our heavenly Father will do the rest. It will take a lifetime, but it will happen. More and more people will begin to notice the family resemblance; more and more the trusting child of God will look like his elder brother!
Just relax, believe Jesus, trust God, and GROW!