In a spiritual sense, as a Christian, how do you know if you or someone else is growing? For that matter, are you still growing or have you reached a plateau? What are the things you look for in your life to know whether it’s possible to grow any more or if it’s OK to not be growing?
A typical trajectory of Christian growth (as noted similarly by Andrew Hong) often looks something like:
New believers learn about Bible Stories, characters
Later: they study deeper doctrines, such as the trinity, predestination etc
Teacher: Then they get asked to lead a study, or have some regular involvement in a Sunday School or similar type of activity.
Leader: If they persist they might be asked to join a Committee or become a Coordinator of a Church ministry department.
At each stage, you acquire new skills and new information that need a kind of growth.
But, have you grown? Or have you instead, substituted information and skills for Spiritual growth?
In the region of ancient Galatia (near modern Turkey) some Christians in some Churches came to value external behaviour and theological knowledge more than internal Christ-like growth. This resulted in an elitism and exclusion of a sort that produced internal conflict and various expressions of arrogance in how they related to others that they didn’t consider to be on the same level.
After all, they reasoned, if you know more you must, of necessity, be more spiritual! To which the Apostle Paul replied, in the New Testament letter of Galatians – What a load of piffle! Well, actually he used much stronger language…
You see, the idea that you can improve on the basics of the Christian gospel with superior knowledge or added religious behaviours was anathema. Paul considered it an abomination for any addition to the gospel, or anything that involved constructing a system that demanded people follow a particular process or behavioural code as the way to get God’s blessing and favour.
We don’t help God save us or change us. As soon as we do that, we despise and cancel out God’s grace and we are saying that Jesus died for no purpose whatsoever.
What’s all that got to do with growing?
Too often, too many defraud themselves by exchanging the life altering (& often painful) growth in holiness, Christ-likeness, and fruit of the Spirit for an educational experience. They are deceived into thinking that memorizing a few verses from the Bible or knowing a few fancy theological words somehow excuses them from a life of denying yourself and losing yourself to Christ and the gospel.
So, how are you growing?