My Thoughts About Spiritual Growth
Have you ever felt as though you should be further along in your spiritual growth? Maybe you look at your pastor, life group leader, or favorite person from the Bible and ask yourself, “How do I go from where I am spiritually to where they are?” And when we think of actually being transformed to be like Jesus, it’s easy to become discouraged, thinking, “This seems impossible! How can I ever grow that much?”
You are not alone. Many Christians of all ages and levels of maturity feel the same way. The good news is that we do not need to be discouraged. Growth is a process and this process looks different for everyone. However, the question still remains: How do I actually grow closer to Jesus and become more like Him?
Spiritual Growth can be defined as the process by which someone becomes closer in relationship to God. Some of us have the perception that the best way to grow is simple: love more, sin less. But no matter how hard we work, those two seemingly simple tasks overcome us. Or maybe you think that growth is the result of some kind of equation: Reading your Bible + Praying Regularly + Going to Church + Making Good Choices = Spiritual Growth. The problem is that even the most disciplined of us are rarely able to keep that pace. And even if someone could, that equation doesn’t necessarily lead to spiritual maturity.
Oftentimes, our primary focus is on what we must do and how we need to act in order to grow spiritually. As followers of Jesus, we sometimes have the outlook (often without even realizing it) that “Jesus was responsible for my salvation. Now I am responsible for my growth.” But God does not ask us to grow ourselves. While talking to His disciples Jesus gave this illustration,
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
Jesus’ illustration is simple: in the same way a branch needs to be connected to a vine or a tree to grow and bear fruit, we need to be connected to Jesus to grow spiritually and bear spiritual character similar to Him. A vine is the life source for a branch. It is responsible for collecting and providing all the nutrients and water that the branch needs in order to grow. The branch’s job is simply to receive. But Jesus is clear that the branch must be open to receiving from the vine. The vine will not force the branch; the branch must remain.
Jesus’ phrase “remain in me” in simplest terms means, “make your home with Jesus.” That can only happen if our hearts are open to Him. The first and absolute primary step in spiritual growth is openness to Jesus, remaining in Him as He remains in us. What would it look like to bring your open heart to Jesus and allow Him bring His healing, growth, and transformation you? Let us not rely on our own strength, but to give control of our spiritual growth to the true vine, Jesus. Apart from Him we can do nothing.
Spend some time today opening up to God. Make your heart home with Him, telling Him about the last 24 hours of your life. Tell Him about the events of your day, the people you encountered and the emotions that you felt. Write God a letter, take a walk with Him, or just talk to Him in your room. Spend sometime with Him and tell him what is on your heart.