Thursday, October 14, 2010

Devotional 141010

Dear brothers and sister,
Good morning. I am heading to airport for New York at around noon. Pray that I will witness His work in the life of the community where He ordained me to serve. This is a distinct honor to be in His service. And this is a humbling experience to see God at work through an unworthy and inadequate person like me. Your prayer for me is greatly appreciated. Pray that people are motivated to participate in His Kingdom dream.

It is both natural and appropriate to be excited about a person’s conversion. It is the most significant event in life—to be born anew, to be a new creature in Christ. But that significance and the excitement accompanying it do not excuse ignorance and indifference to the complex process of growth into which every Christian is launched via this new birth. Because growth involves so much—so much detail, so much time, so much discipline and patience—it is common to dismiss it and turn our attention to something we can get quick handle on: the conversion event. Evangelism crowds spirituality off the agenda. But having babies is not a vocation; parenting is. It is easier, of course, to have babies. But a church that refuses or neglects the long, intricate, hard work of guiding its newborn creatures into adulthood is being negligent of most of what is in Scripture.

The Bible is full of references to growth and growing. Luke, for example, describes both Jesus and John as growing. John “grew and became strong in spirit” (1:80), and Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (2:52). The word grew is the last word on both John and Jesus before their public ministries are narrated. Both the greatest of the prophets and the unique Messiah grew into the fullness of their ministries.

The apostle Paul used growth words frequently as he urged people to enter into the full implications of their life in the Spirit. When we become mature in the faith, he said, “we will no longer be infants…but we will in all things grow up into him who is the lead, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:14, 15). “Your faith is growing note and more” is his commendation to the church at Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Peter urged believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Comparing them to newborn babies, he said, “Crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you nay grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

Growth is the basic metaphor in several parables that involve us in participation in the kingdom. The most dramatically placed growth image is at the center of the Gospel of John (12:24). Jesus said that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it does not grow, but if it dies, it grows. Growth is a major concern of John’s Gospel—maturing into everything that God does in Christ, gathering all the parts of our lives and all the details of Jesus’ life into a single whole. John arranges his Gospel into two almost equal parts: this growth image in 12:24 is the hinge that holds the two halves together.

[Jesus said,] “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, its sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal” (John 12:24-25). It takes a life time to realize this goal of dying to the world. Our ego always gets in the way for our growth. Not only do the new converts have this problem, even mature Christians are battling with this process of putting to death our “old self” on a daily basis. Being a minister of the Gospel, we have nothing to boast as though we are better than those young in faith. We are as vulnerable if not more to temptations. Pray that we will all be alert at all times, and hold each other accountable to bury our “grain” for the sake of growing a new life from it. Hope you find time to re-examine your lives during this weekend.

With love through Christ,

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