Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Hope you have a great start for the day despite of cloudy weather! A pastor was once asked by a new Christian, “I know Jesus is in Church on Sunday, but where is Jesus on Monday? Is he remaining in church or He is back to heaven?” It may sound like a childish question. But if you meditate on it a little bit more, it could be a very profound question to contemplate. Does Jesus go to work, school or doing house chores with us on Monday? A lot of Christians prefer Jesus to stay in church on Monday than going to work or wherever with them. But Jesus prefers to go with His people wherever they may be – for the sake of growing them to become light and salt of this world. How would you perform differently by knowing that Jesus works with you today?
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:12-14). It is in the nature of what God is doing in us that we grow. But this “naturalness” does not mean that growth is painless. Growth calls into action new parts of our minds, our emotions, our bodies. What we experience at these times often feels like pain. We are not used to stretching ourselves in these ways. But the pain should not surprise us—our muscles ache when we take up any new activity. Athletes expect to get sore muscles when they begin training. A commitment to Christ and obedience to his commands stretch us beyond ourselves, and that hurts. But this is a very different pain from that inflicted by torture or punishment. Growth pain is the kind we don’t regret; it leads to health and not disease or neurosis.
The problem with most of us was to avoid pain or any uncomfortable feelings. We therefore shy away from doing exercise, which causes problem to our body eventually. The author of Hebrews made it very clear to us. We need to grow in Him. We need to stretch our faith or apply our faith to action. People compare faith with muscle – the more you use or exercise your muscle, the stronger it will grow. In the same token, the more you exercise your faith, the stronger your faith will become. And we will become mature believers who can discern the will of God in our lives.
Eugene Peterson did not advice using introspection for our spiritual growth. The spiritual masters in our faith consistently discourage introspection. Growth takes place in quietness, in hidden ways, in silence and solitude. The process is not accessible to observation. Constantly taking our spiritual temperature is bad for our health. When we are introspective about our growth, what we are actually doing is examining our feelings—and feelings are notorious liars, especially in matters of faith.
Attentiveness to spiritual growth that does not become introspectively neurotic is only accomplished by participation in a worshiping community. Healthy spiritual growth requires the presence of the other—the brother, the sister, the pastor, the teacher. A private, proudly isolated life cannot grow. The two or three who gather together in Christ’s name keep each other sane. The Bible said, “Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world” (James 1:27 The Message). We need Christian community to nurture our faith, because only in and through which our faith and love will be stretched and we will really grow to become a Christ-like person. It is through the community of faith that we understand what agape love is all about. Have mercy on introverted persons like me, O Lord. Help us participate in a worshiping community to nurture our spiritual growth in you…
With Love in growing process,