The Bible is very clear that God’s will for every Christian is for them to grow spiritually. The Bible says salvation is the beginning and from that point on we are to grow spiritually. We may wonder what the purpose of spiritual growth is. Isn’t being a Christian just about having our sins forgiven and being right with God? The truth is being forgiven for our sins is just the start of the Christian life. Once we are saved we then need to grow and mature. The ultimate goal of spiritual growth is to become like Jesus (Romans 8:29). God knew each and every one of us before time began and He desires that we would become like Jesus. We become like Jesus through the process of spiritual growth.
In his book The Purpose Driven Church Pastor Rick Warren says there are six myths about spiritual growth that people believe. Believing these myths will hinder a Christian’s spiritual growth. The first one he mentions is the one that I tend to think hinders us the most. The myth is that spiritual growth is automatic once you become a Christian.
The idea with this is that you really don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to grow spiritually because it’s just something that automatically happens. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the most spiritually immature people I’ve ever known have been Christians for a very long time. Despite the fact that they’ve believed in Jesus for a very long time, they aren’t at all like Jesus in their lives.
Now this doesn’t mean that they don’t attend church or live moral lives. Many times they are very active church goers and live fairly moral lives. The problem isn’t their church attendance or morality. The problems is that since they haven’t matured spiritually, they still act like spiritual babies. If they don’t get their way they’ll take their toys and go home. If they don’t get their way they’ll gripe, moan and complain to make sure everyone knows that this isn’t what they wanted to do. If they don’t get their way they’ll do all they can to make everyone so miserable that they will give up and do it their way because it’s just easier that way.
One of the main reasons that it is so important for us to make spiritual growth a priority is that virtually every problem in every church revolves around spiritually immature Christians. Few churches ever split over significant theological issues. Instead, problems in churches usually revolve around insignificant issues such as style of music, color of carpet, pews or theatre seats and other silly things. Most of the time, if you can get to the root of the issue what you’ll find are spiritually immature Christians who are mad that they didn’t get their way and are determined to do whatever it takes to get their way.
What we want to do is ensure that we aren’t that person. We don’t want to be so spiritually immature that we have to have our way or we’ll pout, stir up trouble or leave. The only way to ensure that we aren’t that person is to ensure that we are growing spiritually and this takes intentional effort on our parts.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:2-11 (NKJV)
One of the things that stands out as you read this passage is the emphasis on spiritual growth. We are told that we have everything we need to grow spiritually. Pay special attention to the fact that we are told to give all diligence to add to our faith. Notice that faith in Jesus isn’t the end but the beginning. Once we have faith, we are to give all diligence to add to this faith. Some of the other translations say we are to “make every effort…”
Nothing about this passage says that this happens automatically. Everything about this passage says that it happens as we intentionally put forth the necessary effort to grow spiritually. This isn’t just something that new Christians need to hear. This is something each and every one of us need to take to heart. Spiritual growth is a process that starts when we are saved and continues until we are like Jesus. Therefore unless we can say that we are just like Jesus, there is still room for us to grow spiritually. Since this is the case we all need to make spiritual growth a priority this year.