Monday, 19 May 2014

Growing ...

As part of my Monday series based on Luke 2:52, I wanted to think a bit about the whole process of growing. 

In this verse we are told that Jesus grew in four ways -
• in wisdom 
• in stature
• in favour with God
• and with men

I like to think of my life with respect to these four areas and check if I'm growing, standing still or falling backwards. All of them are important. Let me explain why. 

If you aren't growing in wisdom, and stretching and using the brain God gave you, you can become too much of a follower, letting everyone else make the decisions you should be making, content to follow the crowd and losing the trust in our ability to make decisions on our own. I know that seems extreme, but at times I've not done anything to stretch my intellect I've found myself in that very position. It's not good. 

Likewise if we aren't growing in stature - and for this I take it to mean in body, health and anything physical - we end up exactly where I am right now - overweight and extremely unfit.  And yet it takes so little effort to prepare the right food, do a little exercise and look after ourselves, boosting our self-confidence, our self-esteem and being able to live the life God created us for. Realistically it is nearly impossible to live a radically obedient life for God when we can hardly get off the sofa, never mind walk to the end of the street. Thankfully my journey has started already, but more about that on a later date! 

And then we have the last two. I want to skip right to the last one first. If you aren't growing in favour of men - socially - then your life will end up being very lonely and very hard. People are created for relationships. We feel, we love, we may hate, we laugh, we cry, we dream, we plan, we succeed, we may even fail ... But all of those things are so much better when we do them with others. Think back to all the wonderful memories in your life. How many of them involved other people? Whether it was the birth of your daughter, a wedding you went to (or your own), a glass of bubbly in your favourite Italian restaurant, being caught up and immersed in a worship song in church, that bag or shoes you found for less than half price (and yes shoes can be that important!!)... They all involve other people - friends, family, loved ones, and even strangers... Community breeds confidence, love and the ability to step out knowing you have people who have your back. 

But the most important one of all is the third one - growing in God. Our spiritual life is probably the one area where it's possible to stop growing, and even fall backward, and not even notice. We can be going to church every Sunday with a smile on our face, or not going at all because your fed up trying to look as happy as you're supposed to feel, reading, praying and going through the motions... But that's all it is. It's not exciting you as it once did. It's not making a difference to any part of your life. It's become something you do so you can mark it off your 'to-do' list... And as we start to slide down the slippery slope you can so easily convince yourself that you are doing ok, that you are still believing and anyway, God keeps us not the other way round... Right?? 

Taking time out to make sure we're growing is so important, and none more than in our spiritual life. If it's not going right, nothing else will either. It is through God that we succeed and achieve His plans and will for our lives, but until we get our relationship right with Him we can't live the life He has for us.

So every Monday for the next couple of weeks we're going to look at a couple of ways to grow in Christ and make sure our spiritual life is on track. It follows this plan :

G - get to know Him by reading the Bible
R - responding to God in prayer
O - obeying God moment by moment
W - walking in the power of the Holy Spirit
T - telling others out Christ
H - having fellowship with other Christians 

This acronym comes from 'STEPS TO CHRISTIAN MATURITY' by Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Cru ('Campus Crusade for Christ' as was). I'll be taking you through each one with some application questions so that you, and I, can really take a challenging look at our spiritual growth and our relationship with God. 

How do you evaluate how you are doing in the different areas of your life? Do you do it often enough or just when something goes wrong and you forced to stop and think? 
Keep shining xx 

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