Monday, October 18, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Spiritual Growth

Last week, I was challenged with a question as I studied the book of Colossians: am I growing in my relationship with Jesus? It reminded me when our first son, Karsten was 14 months old. He was diagnosed as "failure to thrive." It is a condition in a young infant when they stop growing. I wonder if I would ever be diagnosed as "failure to thrive" in my spiritual life. Would you? What I see in the Scriptures is that the Christian is expected to grow. The Christian is expected to produce fruit. When the sower sows the seed of the Word of God and some falls on the soft soil, it always produces fruit. Now, not all Christians produce the same amount of fruit, for Jesus says that some bring forth fruit thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold (Matt 13:23). But they all produce fruit.

What I learned this past week is that "how I came to Jesus for salvation is the way in which I grow in Him." It is not that I come to Jesus with one heart attitude and then progress to the deeper attitudes that really help me grow. It is the same attitudes. The Christian life is a continuous learning and submitting to Jesus, first in salvation and later in sanctification. Let me explain.

In Colossians 2:6, Paul writes, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him." It is the same attitudes that we had when we first heard about Jesus and were brought into a relationship with Him that are important if we are going to continue to grow in Him. Actually that phrase "walk in Him" could be translated "keep walking in Him." I figure you do as well, but I want to keep walking (or growing) in my relationship with Jesus. So what are some of the attitudes that are necessary to grow spiritually?

First, how about the attitude of HUMILITY?

The first words of Jesus in His first sermon have to do with the humility that it takes in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3). To be poor means to be a complete destitute beggar. It means that if someone does not help you, you will not survive. Being a beggar is the foundation that drives me to the feet of Jesus. I know that I cannot do this salvation thing on my own. And that attitude is necessary to grow in Christ as well. I need to realize that I did not enter the kingdom on my own and I will not grow on my own. I need His help!

Second, how about the attitude of FAITH?

I say this a lot, but the attitude of faith is what is necessary in order to enter the kingdom, but it also is the heart attitude that I need in order to grow. What is it that will move me to obey Jesus when all the world around me says to seek out my own glory? It is the belief that His will for me is better, even if I can't see it. Paul wrote the same thing, that "the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal 2:20). It is not that he believed and then moved on. All of the Christian life is one of faith.

Third, how about the attitude of JOY?

Sometimes, I think Christians are some of the saddest people I have met. That is unfortunate and makes me question the reality of their salvation. Jesus and the gospel is that precious treasure that we find in a field and the joy we have for it moves us to sell all that we have, every single possession, so we can purchase that field (Matt 13:44-46). I need to remember the cross and the forgiveness I have been shown, that will remind me of the joy I should have that will help me to obey my savior.

Fourth, how about the attitude of REPENTANCE?

I enter repenting of my sin and I need to daily repent. I grow when I repent! When I turn from my sin towards Jesus, I am taking one step in holiness to what I was created to be.

So, are you growing? If you were to take your measurement from last month or last year, would you say that you are closer to Jesus or have you become stale in your spiritual growth? I pray you keep growing and I beg of you to pray for me that I would continue to grow as well. That's the church! We need to help each other pursue Jesus with all that we have so that we can grow to become like Him! To Him be the glory.

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