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How to Grow Spiritually
Why do we need to grow spiritually? And how does that happen? We have a sense we need to grow, but sometimes it’s a fuzzy concept for us. Perhaps if we use physical maturity as an illustration, we can better understand our need for spiritual growth.
When I was in the 6th grade, I participated in a class trip to Toronto. I have two lasting impressions from that trip: feeling very big and feeling very small. The excitement of being on the bus was one of the best parts of the trip. I felt grown up and independent sitting there, giggling with my friends and passing notes to the boy I liked. I wanted to be grown up, and I felt grown up, but I did not fully know how small my world was. Stepping out of the bus to stay in a hotel, eat out at restaurants, and visit museums in an unfamiliar city reminded me I still had a lot to learn about the world. One of the highlights of the trip, besides the bus ride, was visiting the CN Tower. At the time, it was the world’s tallest freestanding structure and stepping out onto the glass floor of the observation deck to see the city lights sprawling below was breathtaking.
Can you imagine if I had allowed that charter bus to be enough for me as a 6th grader? What if I never stepped off the bus to experience the hotels, the museums, the restaurants, the view of the city? I may have believed that I was experiencing all that a trip to Toronto was meant to be and never fully appreciated the city. I may have believed that I had “arrived” at independence and maturity and never caught a vision for how much life experience I had yet to gain.
Paul’s closing words in his letter to the Ephesians expressed his deep passion for their growth.
Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
He wanted them to have more fellowship, peace, faith, grace, and love. He wanted them to grow! He knew they had already grasped the gospel in their lives, but he also knew how much more they needed to experience and understand about God. And how that understanding would trickle down into their relationships with one another and to the world (more peace, love and grace).
As soon as we give our lives to the Lord, He begins to bless us in Christ and with the fruit of His Spirit. We should enjoy the blessings of the gospel and the spiritual community that we have now, but there is still more! Don’t get comfortable “on the bus”. Look around and gain perspective! There is more of Jesus to be experienced, more about ourselves to understand, more sin to repent of, more peace to be made within the body of Christ, and more people outside of the body of Christ who need to know the grace of God.
There is more of Jesus to be experienced, more about ourselves to understand, more sin to repent of, more peace to be made within the body of Christ, and more people outside of the body of Christ who need to know the grace of God.
So how do we grow? Get off the bus! Read parts of the Bible you have never read before and be willing to ask questions when you do not understand something. Get to know someone older in the faith whose experience of the gospel in their life can give perspective on your own limited experience. Reach out to members of the church or community who are not like you, so you can do your part to build bridges for peace.
Growth requires humility. We must be vulnerable to pursue spiritual friendships. We need to understand of how God extends peace to us, despite our rebellious hearts, to extend peace and grace to others. We must acknowledge that we have much more to learn about God and His holiness. And that we are not as holy as we think we are.
Growth requires humility.
The more we understand our own immaturity, that our experience of the gospel is more like the awkward and limited life experience of an adolescent, the more we see our need for Jesus and His grace. The more we understand the immense grace of God, which is vaster and more glorious than the view of Toronto from 1100 feet in the air, the more our love for Him will grow. The more our love for Him grows, the greater capacity we will have for reaching out to our church community and the world with love, peace, and grace. All that Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus will become reality in our own lives as well. Paul knew that healthy Christians are growing Christians!