Why grow as a Christian?
Growing to be more like Jesus Christ in our everyday lives isn’t a burden, a bore or a life sapping obligation, it is a great opportunity.
Three verbs drawn from our mission statement give us a guide to growing as a Christian.
We need to regularly ENCOUNTER God.
To encounter God we need to desire to encounter God. Then we need to engage in activities through which Christian history and our own experience teaches us that people often encounter God. We need to leave the nature and intensity of the encounter (dreams and visions or a quiet knowing in our hearts) up to God. But whatever the intensity, our response determines the significance. [A human example is in marriage proposals - it could take place in a spectacular location or in a lounge room, the significance comes not from the location but from the answer]
These eight “w’s” can help us remember some of the places where people have often encountered God:
Word (the bible contains records of many encounters with God)
Walk in creation
Wrestle with God in pray
(w)rest with God
Welcome people into our lives
Work - loving our neighbour through paid or volunteer activity
Wonder - reflecting on our day looking for where God might have been at work
We need to regularly ENCOURAGE each other.
There are two forms of encouragement that we need. The first is the sort that affirms that you belong, that you are part of God’s family in easy, normal and tough times. The second is the sort that challenges and prods you to take action in response to what God has said while assuring you of support.
We need to regularly ENGAGE with people around us
God calls us out of Christian ghettos to be genuinely with people, to eat with them, the serve them and to share our experience of God with them
As we encounter, encourage and engage, there are three aspects of the Christian life where we will grow:
Content - knowledge of bible, theology, Christian history
Character - being like Jesus
Competency - being able to do the sorts of things that Jesus did
Which of these areas do you find it easiest to grow in? Which area do you avoid? Are you out of balance like a stool where the three legs are of different lengths?
While a particular season may focus on one of these areas, across a year we should find ourselves growing in all three areas.
There are three ways we receive input in these areas:
Classroom - where we receive information. It can be in a class room or in a sermon or bible study or by reading a book or even a website
Apprenticeship - where we walk along side someone who has already grown in a particular area and we observe them, imitate them, and ask them questions and advice.
Immersion - where we are surrounded by people who are seeking to grow in these three areas.
An example of this is learning a foreign language.
Class room - we learn vocab, grammar etc.
Apprenticeship - we attempt to talk with someone who is more fluent in that language than us
Immersion - we visit or live in a place where that language is spoken all the time.
Don’t leave your growth to chance.
Ask God to expand your vision of life in His kingdom and how you can cooperate with Him in your growth this year.
Identify aspects of Content, Character and Competency where you can grow this coming year
Develop a plan for engaging in the classroom, apprenticeship and immersion in each of those areas.
REMEMBER: EVERYONE STARTS RUNNING AROUND IN CIRCLE (whenever we start out something new we won't be experts)
Finally this is not a competition or ranking exercise where we compare ourselves to others with the risk of feeling inadequate or superior. Rather, all of us, from where we are now, simply need to ask, how can we grow to be a bit more like Jesus this year?