The Secret to Growing up In Christ

 

 

 

Horns honk and buses emit poisonous fumes into the already polluted air as I hustle two children into the back of the taxi. We fight traffic all the way into town, cars backed up in ways possible only for a city home to 14 million people. After an hour and a half in the bouncing, swerving taxi, we finally arrive at the doctor’s office.

The young doctor calls us back and I explain to him why we are here. Little Bit has only grown 2 cm in the last 9 months. At almost six years old, she should be sprouting like a root, growing like a weed. She isn’t. Her growth has plateaued and prior tests say she’s got the bone age of a three year old. She’s not producing a growth hormone called IGF-1.

“We just really need to know what’s going on,“ I tell the doctor. What is behind this stunted growth? Is it genetic? Neurological? Biological? And do we treat it with synthetic hormones?

The question nags us: How can we get her to grow?

The doctor orders more tests. “This is complicated and there aren’t easy answers,” he tells me. In other words, this may be a very long journey.

 

The one must have for real spiritual growth

 

We get home from the doctor and hang up jackets. I‘m tired. Shadows fall. The day is mostly gone and it is time for me to start dinner. I wonder if I’m making the most of my time, my life. Shuttling in taxis, sorting socks, checking homework, sharing Christ however I can… am I really making a difference?

My thoughts turn dark. At this point in my Christian life, I should have more spiritual authority in my life, I reason. I should carry a sense of spiritual blessing, spilling over onto others who pass my way. With so many lost and dying around me, and me having Living Water? I think about in my own home. I should be much slower to anger. My words should more often be a fountain of grace and life. My vision should be much greater, my faith more compelling, more transferable.

It strikes me, an unwanted chord: Could it be that I’m a spiritual Little Bit? I’ve plateaued. My spiritual growth is stunted and what is behind it?

I throw ingredients together in the Dutch oven and while the soup simmers and the bread bakes, I open a book. It’s what people like me do… between stirring the soup and setting the table, I read words. The book was randomly selected, so the words I read astonish me:

“I speak to you as babes in Christ.”

“We find in the Corinthians simply a condition of protracted infancy. It is quite right that at six months of age a babe should eat nothing but milk; but years have passed by and it remains in the same weakly state. Now this is just the condition of many believers. We come in contact with them and there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s Spirit in them.”

You have had the gospel so long that by this time you ought to be teachers, and yet you need that men should teach you…” Hebrews 5:12

Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling

 

Soup simmers and children play and I do believe the words found their target in me. The Word becomes the physician, pinpointing the problem, giving the reason for my protracted infancy: “You’ve had the gospel…yet…”

Yes. For many years I’ve possessed what Paul describes as “the power of God.” It is no impotent thing. Yet does it lay un-used, un-applied in my daily living out?  Is it really the power of God, say, for my speech? My witness? My vision and faith? My parenting and wifery and intimacy? Is the gospel taken up…ingested… to the nourishment and growth of soul bones?

Can I really say the gospel is the power of God in my every day, moment to moment living?

Or have I relegated the gospel as beneficial primarily for the lost?

I reel. Do I even know what I’m doing?

When did I revert to the subtle ways of duty-living the Christian life instead of gospel-living it? When did my approach to the Christian life become a stack of Christian how-to books on the bedside table? An endless list of opinions and workbooks and should do’s and to do’s and empty guarantees?

The Word speaks again and I remember. Words spoken by Peter, one who grew in spurts and plateaus and flat-on-face falls. Yes, give me Peter. “Grow in Grace…” he instructed his readers.

And burly Peter takes me aside and speaks it plain. “It’s like this,” he says. “Grace = Growth.”

I admit it means something coming from one who knew a thing or two about the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the failures and successes of walking the Christ life.

Is not our struggling to live the Christian life really this, the struggle to embrace grace, in its moment by moment delivery?

The world can only relate to us in terms of the law, a system of earning and securing. It’s a system of working and achieving and proving our worth. It’s the way employers relate with employees and parents relate with children and the government with its citizens. Sadly, it is frequently how we function in the church, as believing people, this trial and error system of finding out what formula produces the most results.

But God offers an entirely different system of relating. He offers grace.

While the world presses us to relate according to its terms and conditions, God says it simple:  “Grow in Grace.” This is the gospel. The gospel is in fact the grace of God. {Acts 20:24} And we never outgrow our desperate, pressing need for daily grace.

And as long as our approach to living the Christian life is a stack of how-to books on the bedside table, a study of Christian should’s and to-do’s, we will never see the growth we are desirous of, the growth we know is possible.

Grace = Growth. Thank you very much, Peter.

I’m thinking my life needs a new orientation, the orientation of grace.

It’s the way to spiritual growth. And what better day to start growing than today? 

 

Want to read more? This post was adapted from the devotional Trust Without Borders. See what others are saying and grab your copy here.

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5 Comments

  1. Oh, my sweet sister, I’m there today in swirl of words in my mind, bevy of paper stacks and phone calls. The voice of those in need scream in my ear and I wonder why we don’t all just grow up. Then I stop, bow my head and remember the growing in grace.
    .He is the vine. We are the branches. He gives each branch just what it needs to grow and when as need it the pruning.
    I went to a Vineyard one day seeking to understand. I asked the owner . “Why? Why do you tie up them up? Why do you prune them. He said, “the lower to the ground they are then they are trampled down. Safer on higher ground . I cut back branches because the grapes growing closer to the vine are sweeter.”
    I went to the vineyard to understand and found my Lord. It is the power of the yielded heart.
    May you grow strong I’m the grace of his love as mercy as a people of the yielded heart.

  2. I’ve so been in this place. The place where you know there’s a big gap between who you were made to be…and who you act like you are. Praise God for the grace that pursues us right into the middle of our weaknesses. I make myself laugh sometimes, when I think that God hasn’t figured me out or something. And I say that, because even in those spots where we long for growth but don’t see it, it’s there. And he’s not even surprised by growth spurts, or the lack thereof!

  3. So good! And do we consider that growing in grace may not produce any visible results beyond increased dependence on Him? that we walk by faith and not by sight? Our outward man is perishing while our inward man is being renewed day by day. The increased dependence is weak in the eyes of the world, but makes us more suited for the kingdom of God…as a little child. God chooses the weak things of the world to confound the wise.

    As always, I love to read here. Your kindred friend,

  4. Arabah Joy…thank you for allowing me to peer into your heart and to see my need for everyday gospel and certainly more grace. Your words are healing and soothing… thank you!

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