growing spiritually

For a lot of my Christian life, I've depended on others for my spiritual growth. Becoming a Christian at a Christian camp embedded that in me early on. I'd spend a summer sitting under great Bible teaching and encouragement, come home fired up, and be almost the same old girl by October. I'm not denying my salvation in those early years. God's spirit was within me, convicting me of sin, causing me to love His word, but I was utterly alone. I didn't have a single Christian friend, and these were the days before Facebook, and texting (believe it). My church was a nice place of refuge but I quickly began to realize as I was vigorously reading the Bible, that they weren't teaching it.  So I depended heavily on summers at camp to boost me spiritually. Fast forward to the years when I was attending an amazing Bible-teaching church. Sundays were incredible, but I didn't know how to grow apart from the pastor's messages or re-reading my sermon notes.

Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that the Christian life can thrive without the church. I'm not saying that a Christian can function perfectly, so long as they know how to grow spiritually, outside of Christian community. But I am saying that it's easy to be a lazy Christian, depending on X campus ministry or X famous preacher's podcasts or even your local church, for your entire spiritual growth.

Now that I worship in a language that I'm not fluent in, I can't solely depend on the local church for my spiritual growth. As profound and convicting as the messages and worship are, there is always something I'm missing, not understanding. A lot of Christian anglophones come to Quebec and experience the same predicament. The Christian community is smaller, the language can be an obstacle, and so they say they aren't growing.

Spiritual growth is the pursuit of every Christian. Sanctification, our life's work. Notice the words pursuit and work. AKA not easy or natural. But worth it.

Here are some things I've learned about spiritual growth:

  1. It won't happen alone. God uses community, God uses mentors, God uses friendships. Relationships reveal our sin nature way quicker than a day alone in the woods. A Godly community will encourage you to pursue Christ and help you identify idols you may be blind to. Membership in the local church puts you in the best position to grow spiritually, because older Christians are watching over your soul, you're sitting under consistent teaching, and you're within the safety net of church discipline should you wander.
  2. It won't happen without the Word. God's Word is living and active and God's chosen way of communicating with us. You can and should read books about the Bible, but you need to primarily read THE BIBLE. You can and should listen to sermons, but you need to primarily listen to God's words written in THE BIBLE.
  3. It takes discipline. You know what's easier than memorizing scripture, confessing your sins to an accountability partner, and praying and reading God's word daily? ALMOST ANYTHING. Good things take time and require commitment and discipline. It's not easy waking earlier than my kids to be in the word and I so often fail at this pursuit. But I know the more I do, the more I want to, and a healthy habit replaces a self-serving one. 
Apart from the local church, community, and God's word, I love reading theology and Christian blogs to spur me on, challenge me, and shepherd me. I highly recommend the resources available at The Gospel Coalition and the bible study series that you can listen to and study along with online at Jen Wilkin's wonderful blog.

This week I'm in Orlando at The Gospel Coalition National Conference while my wonderful husband cares for our kiddos. I'm so grateful to be here and soaking up the great teaching and encouraging atmosphere, but I know the last fruit is in the day in and day out pursuit of God. Press on, friends!

1 comment:

  1. Such a good, balanced word on growth, Emily. I find myself leaning a little too heavily on things about God rather than Him, loving His gifts more than Him. Praying for greater joy in Him alone.