I used to love attending the children’s church when I was younger. One reason being it gave me an opportunity to meet and make new friends, my other reason was it was always so much fun.
My favourite teacher then (I can’t remember her name, but I remember her hair was done in a lovely low cut) used to teach us new songs almost every Sunday, and her energy was infectious.
She made it a thing to lead us in a song before it was time to share the word. We’d all get up and sing.
‘Read your bible, pray every day, if you want to grow.’
I never gave it too much thought, until one day, we were singing and I just started wondering, ‘grow? How?’
I couldn’t understand how reading my bible would add any more inches to my height, but I shrugged it off and sang anyway.
Now, many years later, I understand that song is about spiritual growth. I am sure many of us have also figured that out. But then, is spiritual growth important?
I mean, what’s the deal? Isn’t believing in Christ enough? Or does God just like stress?
Looking into the bible, we can find answers to these questions.
The bible describes new believers as feeding on milk. This is to symbolise that they lack a certain level of maturity.
We have all been accepted into a family, into God’s family. ‘Born again,’ we have become new creations. But before this, many of us were knee-deep in sin, in confusion, in darkness. We were accepted the way we were, but we are not to remain that way.
Any parent would freak out if their child remains a baby, blowing raspberries and crying for milk when its already five years old.
Every child is expected to grow into maturity and it’s the same in our spirituality.
The bible advises us to grow in our knowledge of Christ (Heb 6:1), God wants us to grow from our basic knowledge of who he is and be transformed more and more into his image.
In 1 Cor 3:2, the bible advises that we have to reach a point where we’re no longer babies, but mature enough to eat solid food; ‘food’ here being a metaphor for doctrine. We are advised to grow so that we not only feed ourselves solid food but can also feed those spiritually younger than we are.
Why we need to grow in doctrine.
1. So we can make disciples
(Matt 28:16-20). Jesus, before he ascended gave us the mission to spread the gospel, assured that all who believe in him will do great miracles, and gave the instruction to make disciples. We need to have a knowledge of his word, and how to apply and teach it, to be equipped to make disciples.
If you’re wondering why making disciples is important, all you have to do is look at the ministry of Jesus, and how the people he taught and raised impacted so many others. The gospel was able to spread so much because Jesus made disciples and his disciples made disciples who in turn made disciples. We have all been called into the mission of reconciliation, and thus, making disciples is something we must all do. but if we never grow ourselves, how will we be able to help others grow? No one employs a 6-month-old to babysit a newborn.
2. It provides proof of our relationship with God.
Gal 5:22-23. To bear the fruits of the spirit, we must mature in our relationship with God. That song in children’s church went ‘read your bible, pray every day.’
Prayer is communicating with God, and the bible is his word in text. So when you do these things, you are constantly communicating with him. Communication is the foundation on which many relationships are built, including one with God.
We have all had experiences where we start talking to someone new and with consistent communication, it starts to feel like this special bond forms, and it’s a beautiful thing to go from strangers to best friends with someone, especially when it’s not planned.
Constant communication with God strengthens our relationship with him, and the stronger your relationship with someone, the more you know about them, and the bible describes growth as an increase in the knowledge of God. Jesus described the word of God as being as important as food when he was tempted in the desert. As Christians, the word of God is essential for our lives.
The bible also advises us against not applying the word of God. James 1:22-25. Imagine you ask your friend why she’s always healthy and glowing, or for tips on how to maintain shiny natural hair, and she tells you a whole lot of stuff, like “drink lemon water, apply turmeric and honey on your face, wash your hair with onions”, and after she goes on and on, you say “OK” and do none of it, nothing will change. But if you choose to make it your routine just like she does, what you’ve done is you’ve taken a small portion of her and added it to yourself, so in that aspect, you’ve become more like her.
It is the same with God. When we see something in God’s word, and we apply it to our lives, we take that part of him and add it to ourselves, so in that aspect, we have become more like him. That is how we become slowly transformed into his image.
Other things to note while growing spiritually.
1. Be patient.
I have had discussions with friends where they just express how frustrated they are with the rate of their growth, forgetting that growth takes time. Spirits maturity is a process, one that might look tedious, but then we have the grace of God available. Some of us make mistakes on the way and beat ourselves down a little too hard. But then mistakes are part of growth too.
No child figures out how to walk right away, there’s usually a process, and one that involves a lot of falling (and many times tears) but then, their parents are always there to pick them back up and encourage them, and that is who God is to us.
2. Find a sound family.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25). Being among like-minded people, who can help in your process is very important, that is why we have church congregations.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
No one was saved to ride solo, we were all saved into a body, and as members of the same body, we are to work with each other to ensure there is growth and efficiency.
3. You must desire to grow.
1 Peter 2:2 – Desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. Being a spiritual baby seems pretty chill. You don’t need to feed anyone or try to heal the sick, or preach, or rebuke sin, or give someone word of wisdom. But then, we all need to grow if we’re to be productive in the body of Christ.
Every part of a body has to perform its function, and growth is important for effectiveness. If three fingers in each of your palms never grow past ‘baby size’, using them to do anything would be really stressful and nearly impossible. We are parts of the body of Christ. We have the responsibility to grow.
4. Be ready to exercise.
Exercise is also important for growth and with spiritual growth, it’s no different. If you want to grow in love, you look for opportunities to show it and go with it as you’re led. If you want to pray more, you’d have to do it again and again, no matter the inconvenience.
1 Timothy 4:7 says “Exercise yourself toward godliness“. And that is what we must do; putting the word to work, praying always, and expressing the fruits of the spirit.
Any child that remains a child too long causes its parents to worry. Like every good parent, God wants us to grow, and we can when we apply all the bible’s principles for growth.
And like every true offspring, we’ll find ourselves looking more and more like him. Growing in wisdom, power, and love.
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