We don’t expect to see a 30 year old man crawling around on the floor wearing only nappies. Or a 25 year old woman with her face covered in jam, sitting on the floor playing with a doll. (If we do see one of these, we know something is terribly wrong!)
Yet we often consider it acceptable for Christians who have been in the faith for a considerable time to behave as spiritual babies. What do I mean with this? Well, the bible defines spiritual babies as those who are immature in character and in knowledge of spiritual things.
A lady who had been going to this particular church for a long time and who considered herself as the bedrock of the congregation got so offended one day that she decided to leave the church and started going to another congregation down the road.
The offense? The pastor who who had sat up all night with his sick child nursing her, got very little sleep that night and walked into the church building without noticing this lady, the centre of the universe, standing in the hallway. He walked straight passed her without greeting her, his mind tired and full of other things.
Meanwhile in another congregation, the church leaders who had noticed an influx of young people in their church, started introducing some modern worship songs that engaged the newly converted youth and got them really excited about God. Some older members who have been going to church longer than all the ages of the young people added together, (and who should be rejoicing seeing their prayers answered in young people coming to church!) got so offended by the drums and the guitars that they left the church, only after causing a lot of trouble for the pastors.
The above accounts are just two examples of when Christians who should know better, behave like spiritual babies – when they spit their dummies out of the cot.
God never meant for us to stay like babies forever, just like parents never expect to have a 40 year old baby in their house.
So, how can we make sure we grow spiritually and develop into mature Christians who can walk with God and bring a little bit of Heaven to earth? I have listed below a few things that we all can do to help ourselves in our spiritual growth.
1. Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus
Someone once said, that, “Just going to church on Sundays does not make you a Christian just as sitting in a McDonalds restaurant will not make you a hamburger.”
To be a real Christian we need to make sure that we have a daily walk with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who was sent by God the Father to take away our sins at the cross. We need to spend quality time with Him on a daily basis getting to know His voice and His presence in our lives.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” – Jesus (John 10:27)
“But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. ”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18 (MEV)
When we are conscious of Him every day by our side we will start growing, becoming more like Him.
2. Meditate on the Bible
By that, I don’t mean lay out a mat and do yoga on it. The Bible is not just a book of wisdom or just a religious book to intellectually study in order to get a degree in theology. The Bible declares about itself that it is a living thing, spiritual food for the hungry and the very words from God Himself. So, we will do well to get to know it well and letting our minds and hearts dwell on it on a regular basis.
Paul wrote to Timothy: “Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise …. Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
John declared, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” (John 1:1)
The book of Hebrews says, “God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions.”
– Hebrews 4:12
Studying God’s Word, the Bible, gives us communion with God Himself since His Word and Him are one and the same. It allows us to see ourselves as we really are before Him and (hopefully) makes us want to ask Him to change us to be like Him, full of love, forgiveness and grace towards others.
3. Be Obedient to God
As we do the above more and more, we will start discerning God speaking to us, guiding us by His Word. He never condemns us. He will convict us of the things we are doing wrong and gently tug at our hearts to help us change our ways. But He will not force us to obey. Obedience is what we need to choose to do.
Did you know that loving God is not only a sentiment, a feeling, an emotion? It is primarily an action:
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them. Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them. A person who doesn’t love me doesn’t do what I say.” – Gospel of John 14:15,21,23,24
If we say we love Jesus, then we need to show it by starting to walk in obedience to His Word as revealed in the Bible.
4. Know More than the Basics
God cries in Hosea 4:6, “My people are [being] destroyed [due to] lack of knowledge!..”
The writer of the Book of Hebrews puts it like this, “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation..” (Hebrews 6:1-2)
In other words, show some interest in knowing more than just “Jesus Saves..” There are some excellent resources online to equip us with spiritual knowledge about the Bible and about what our faith is actually about. This will “move us beyond the elementary.. to maturity..” helping us to stand up for what we believe and help others find God. Mind you, not every website that claims to be Christian is one. So, I suggest you explore some good ones such as biblegateway.com or biblestudytools.com where you find free study resources online to get you started.
5. Be Part of a Vibrant Church that Moves in the Holy Spirit
Be part of a Church community that will stimulate us to think beyond ourselves and to serve others. Try and be part of a church that hears the voice of God’s Holy Spirit so that you can receive fresh revelations as well as established truths.
Let me explain. If we study church history we see that God keeps progressively revealing His Word with every generation. What the Reformer Martin Luther received from God in the 16th century was that “the just shall live by faith” i.e that a person is saved by faith alone and not by doing religious outward acts. This was revolutionary and ignited a movement coined “Protestantism” and a return back to the Bible away from Catholicism. However, that is now established truth. As time went by God revealed more and more hidden truths from the Bible to people like Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, William J Seymour and many, many more. What we consider as basic Christianity today was once a massive revelation for a previous generation.
God is still speaking today and revealing more of His Word to His servants. So, we will do well to make sure we are in a Church that is at the forefront of all He is doing in our times.
So what’s the low-down?
There is so much more to be said on this subject but this will make a good beginning for those of us who want to be more than spiritual babies. Mature Christians get treated as grown ups by God and that has many benefits. Mature Christians display more and more the likeness of Christ in their character and lifestyle. This will attract others to seek after God. I’ll finish with the Apostle John’s definition of the three stages in our growth as a Christian:
I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
(1 John 2:12-14)
Guido writes for his blog Crazy About God on what the bible says about practical living today.
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