Healthy things grow.
I have marks on a doorframe in our house where we charted the growth of our girls. Just outside my office window, I have an oak tree that has grown over the years. My yard grows. Animals grow. organizations grow. Things that are healthy naturally grow. And the same is true spiritually. God wants you to grow in your walk with Him.
Spiritual growth is living more like Jesus.
Many Christians believe that spiritual growth is mostly about learning more information. The truth is, spiritual growth is not just knowing more about Jesus. Spiritual growth is not just doing more for Jesus. Spiritual growth is living more like Jesus. God wants you to look and act like Jesus. (1 John 2.6 NIV) says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” That’s God’s goal for you.
Still not convinced? (Ephesians 4.13 ESV) says, “God wants to shape you into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Romans 8.29 ESV) says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” The Apostle Paul told the church at Galatia that “he was in anguish, like a woman in childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” (Galatians 4.19 ESV).
God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. He wants you to grow up to live just like Jesus. How does that happen? Part of growing to be more like Jesus is being in an environment to grow. The bonsai tree stays small because it stays in a pot. If it were planted in the ground, it could put its roots down and grow. Many people are like the bonsai tree. They need to get in a new environment where they can put their roots down and grow spiritually, and the perfect environment for spiritual growth is the church.
A church is the perfect place to grow.
A church is like a spiritual greenhouse where the conditions are optimal for spiritual growth. Why is the church the perfect place to grow?
1. You grow by learning to accept people who are different from you.
“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (Ephesians 4.1-3 ESV). In the church, you learn to live with, and love people who are different from you. You learn to practice patience and gentleness. You learn to bear with others in love and maintain unity and peace.
2. You grow by learning from godly people.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers … for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood … so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine,” (Ephesians 4.11-14 ESV). In the church, God provides pastors and leaders, shepherds and teachers to train and equip each person to walk with God and serve Him. This way you don’t have to stay spiritual infants, always needing someone to feed and care for you. You can grow to be mature men or women who can feed yourselves and help others in their spiritual journey.
3. You grow by serving.
Paul writes that the result of our spiritual growth is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry,” (Ephesians 4.12 ESV). As you learn to serve others, you are learning to become more like Jesus, who came to be a servant. Jesus said about Himself, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20.28 NLT).
This blog features an excerpt from the book, Walk With God Student Series.