Is spiritual growth a necessity in the Christian life, or is it a perk that we can choose, or disregard? If it is not a necessity, then it is a premium, or an extra, or even dessert following a gourmet meal. I will say right up front that spiritual growth is part of the entree. It is part of the main course. It is a necessity for the disciple, or Christ follower, like oxygen is to the human being for life.
My most recent grandson, Kasen, was born on November 4, 2007. He is almost five months old. Since that Sunday in November his nourishment has been milk. Lately, he has been trying cereal and fruit. It won't be long until vegetables will be added. Then these babies take on more advanced baby food and before you know it, they are eating from the table! There is a progression as they grow and are able to add different types of food.
Wouldn't it be a tragedy if a toddler was still on a milk diet and when he started pre-school? He moves on to elementary school, then junior high, and high school and still he is on a "milk only" diet. He would not weigh much. There would be deficiencies in that weak body. He would be excused from physical education, much less organized sports. Life would be radically different for that little boy.
That is a picture of the believer who never grows in Christ. It is a picture of a person who is never discipled. Maybe they attend worship most weekends of the year. Maybe no one ever tells them that there is more. But, you know, most of us have an innate sense within us that there is more. We just elect not to pursue the exploration. We never grow. We are like the baby I described. The difference is that we remain a "baby" Christian.
As a spiritual babe, we never learn to pray like a growing disciple. Our prayer life consists of asking God for things for self and we usually only go to Him when there is danger. As a babe, we never get into God's Word with any depth. Our exposure is through a scripture used in a sermon, what we hear at a relative's funeral, or a devotional book that a friend gave us. We never realize how valuable fellowship with other believers can be, because we still hang with our old lost friends. We never share a simple witness concerning what lead us to Christ in the first place. The most basic elements of the Christian faith are left like unseen dust on a table. Naturally, we never get beyond the basics because we never got to the basics in the first place.
Abundant Christian living becomes a scriptural term, print on the page of a book, or a concept that we see in others around us, but have no inkling to what it is that makes life so different for them.
How can we expect a baby to stretch out of its cocoon when it does not have the muscles to break free? How can we expect a baby to join an advanced Bible study when they don't even know the basics? How can we expect a baby to go to Bangladesh with the gospel when they are still confined to their little world? The effects of this "stunted growth" impacts the Christian world and those needing the touch of Christ every single day!
Is spiritual growth an option for the believer? No, it is a necessity for the individual and for countless others who will come in contact with that person over the course of a lifetime.
We have a mission to disciple those closest to us and then reach out to a dying world with the Good News AND disciple them!
That is the passion that I've carried around for the past couple of decades. I've simplified it to a great degree, but I think you see the picture. Have a great Friday and I hope you will go to bed tonight with these thoughts. They are life changing!