Birth receives far more attention among Christians than growth. Born again, new birth, new life are all terms in high use among Western Christians, and rightly so. But, ignoring or overlooking growth leads to the absence of growth and in the words of Eugene Peterson, we become “a nation of adolescence.”
Peterson goes on to say, “the most significant growth that any of us does is growing as a Christian…all other growth is prep for this growth.” Scripture is full of growing up both physically and spiritually and sometimes both. Moses grew up, David grew up, John the Baptist grew up, and Jesus himself grew up. Then after Jesus returned to his father, we see the spiritual growth of his followers who go from clueless, scaredy cats to courageous and bold ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
Could it be that the most important thing about you and me is our Growing Up as followers of Christ? How would that change our work place? How would that change our families? Our marriage? Our solutions to society’s biggest problems?
I am a more patient, friendly, happy, and trusting person because of my Growing Up. I have seen God do some miraculous things in and through me because of my Growing Up. I have made odd and foolish career decisions that demonstrated that God knew what he was doing. I have gone out on a limb and seen God handle the outcomes far better than I ever could. I have grown up and that growth has made it possible for more growth. I am not where I can be or should be but I have matured and developed in my faith.
Let us not put Growing Up on the periphery of our Christian life. Let us make it the other side of the coin from new birth. Let us no longer be a church of adolescence.
One part of my spiritual and personal story that I haven’t discussed much is the pregnancy, birth, and early life stages of our daughter, Joy. My wife recently wrote about this and I thought I would share it on the blog with a series of posts. God has moved in profound ways concerning Joy and her life has taught me many things:
Enter my wife, Leah.
I was 18 weeks pregnant and went to see a specialist because they thought there was an issue with my uterus. At this appointment, they actually found something wrong with our baby.
I remember the nurse and doctor walking in the room. They had that “look” on their faces that something was wrong.
Scott and I sat and listened to a list of serious issues that the doctor felt was wrong with our baby from the findings on the sonogram pictures. There was everything from Down Syndrome, to heart issues, to intestinal issues, cystic fibrosis, and her cleft lip and palate.
The doctor felt strongly that she would have serious issues and we should consider aborting the pregnancy. I felt like someone punched me. I remember saying a strong “no!” to the abortion topic, and we left with lots of questions and feelings of helplessness. We got home and just felt so saddened. We did find out that day that our baby was a girl and soon realized we needed to find a name so that people could pray specifically for her. More on that next time…….
What I am Reading: I am going through my highlights from Dallas Willard’s Life Without Lack and starring the best sections.
What has Meant Something to Me: Willard describes the movement of faith from sufficiency to abandonment to contentment.
Something I am Going to Try: A day with Jesus. At the end of the book, Willard maps out how to spend a day with Jesus. I am looking to schedule this and plan for this later in the month.
What I am Listening To: As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson. This is a collection of sermons from the long time pastor, translator, writer, and professor. I have the audiobook version and I listen to it on my way to work. Unlike the Baptist preachers that I am used to, Peterson’s sermons are usually around 20 minutes long. So, I often finish the sermons on my commute.
What has Meant Something to Me: Peterson isn’t trying to conquer the known world with each sermon. He simply has a text, a word from God, and fantastic use of language. This helps you chew on the message and let it swim around a bit in your head. There are no set of points to map out, just grand, holy ideas to consider and pray through.
Something I am Going To Try: Reading the Psalms in the Message translation in order to get a fresh taste of the full range of human experience and God’s provision in that experience.