Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Way of Growth

We live in an age of immediate gratification. We want everything now. We have instant coffee, fast food--why not instant spirituality? But is this what the Scripture really teaches?

Now don't get me wrong, I would affirm that salvation itself is instantaneous. When we recognize that we are sinners (Romans 3:23) and that sin involves punishment (Romans 6:23), and when we recognize that Christ died for those sins (Romans 5:8) and we can be saved by trusting in what He did rather then what we do (Ephesians 2:8,9), we immediately have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13). But going on with Christ is not pictured this way.

We are called to be involved in a process of transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:2)which is likened to walking (a step by step process)(Galatians 5:16; Colossians 2:6-7). It is also pictured as a process of growth (Colossians 2:19; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3) and as an exercise program(1 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 5:12-14). We are also called to be involved in the process of working God's will in the world (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:28,29). Also, the Christian life is likened to a fight (Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Timothy 2:3,4) and to a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1,2).

All this leaves the impression that living for Christ is a lifelong process, not something that is done in one easy step or by following some magic formula. This is not to deny that there may be turning points in our lives where we recognize we need to get serious about living for God or need to trust in His power rather than our own. But these are simply steps in the process, and we should not think we have arrived, but press on from there (Philippians 3:12-15). The danger here is that we may rest on past laurels rather than going on further, or else become discouraged because we cannot seem to get the latest spiritual quick fix to work for us. Instead, we should go forward in the knowledge that God is at work in our lives and that, wherever we are, God is not finished with us yet.

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