Everyone who is serious about their Christianity wants to grow beyond their baptism. Like babies, toddlers, pre-K, grade-school, tweens, teens, and young adults in whom there is a natural longing to advance to the next stage to being a grown-up; new Christians will naturally want to grow, too. But how?
Growing up in the natural world happens with virtually no effort. We eat, we sleep, we exercise; and before long we’re bigger, stronger, and more coordinated than we used to be. We are guided, corrected, and disciplined by our parents. We go to school and we learn about language, math, science, and more. As a kid we grow in most ways through little or no effort of our own. Ask a young adult how they grew and they might shrug and suggest, “Passage of time, maybe?”
But not so with spiritual growth in two important ways. This is crucial for Christians to remember; you will not grow by merely the passage of time. First, spiritual growth and health will take time and conscious effort. You will need to make some deliberate, long-term choices with your spiritual growth in mind. A meandering, hot and cold, non-deliberate effort leads to stunted growth at best or spiritual death, falling away.
Second, spiritual growth will not be like natural growth in which the growth is complete in 25 years or so. Spiritual growth will be a life-long pursuit. Neglect of this fact often leads to a good spiritual start but a poor spiritual finish.
Acts 2:42-47 provides an inspired path to spiritual growth, practiced by the very first Christians, the 3000 baptized after Peter’s first Gospel sermon. Their growth resulted in numerical growth of the church as well as in the personal strength that it took to stand firm against tremendous persecution. And this path is one that produces growth in more than just baby Christians, it is one that should be used by “toddler, pre-K, grade-school, tweens, teens, and young adult” level Christians alike, since it gives the nourishment, relationship, involvement, and enlightenment needed at every stage of Christian growth. The growth combination found here boils down to…
Devoting themselves to
…the apostles’ teaching
…to the breaking of bread
I’d like to talk about each of these separately over the next few posts in an effort to encourage us in this growth. We just entered the summer season, a season of growth. Do more than just coax roses and daisies out of the flower garden of your yard; instead, coax the growth of “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22, 23) in your heart and spirit.