Yesterday, our church gave a sermon that introduced the idea of “What makes a person grow spiritually?” The man giving the sermon had been brought in because of his past research and study devoted to the topic of God wanting us to have So Much More in our life – to the effect of making us grow closer to God in who we actually are. He had studied extensively if the Bible studies that the church provided were enough to help someone grow… they weren’t. He looked at whether the opportunities to serve others, or receive care from the church helped people grow… and they just didn’t. Even mission trips didn’t seem to help people really grow closer in their walks with God. Basically, he found that everything their church had been doing to try to help people become better versions of themselves, and to grow closer to God, just wasn’t working well at all.
It made me think about the times I’ve been in Bible study and hadn’t really received anything new or enlightening to help me grow personally or spiritually. This last Spring I was involved in a Bible study that was beautiful, informative, and great for being connected to others – but did spiritual growth happen for me in those months? No, it didn’t… at least, not from that Bible study. This is not me trying to say Bible studies aren’t needed – they totally are – and I am excited to start a Fall one soon that seems like it will be exactly on the topic that I actually need at this point. But the simple truth is that sometimes, certain topics in Bible studies (or even in church sermons) can be irrelevant to us at the moment, or just not what we need to hear in order to grow.
The sermon yesterday, that will continue in a series over the next few weeks, concluded with the end results found that only having a relationship with Jesus made people grow spiritually. Not the Bible studies, service opportunities, care ministries, mission trips, classes, or anything else mattered. In fact, even people who were always at church often displayed a lack of growing spiritually!!!
The major problem with this is that we are producing people who are supposed to be Christ-like, and instead we are creating more Christians who bear the name, are probably even saved, and yet go around being jerks, harsh with others, and having bad attitudes.
I’m not perfect, and I have made mistakes with family members, or have at times been too harsh, but I can look back and see the difference in my walk during those times in my life when I wasn’t growing spiritually. I was just surviving, and at the same time, ruining my reputation and witness to the people who more than likely needed it the most. Instead, I should’ve been leaning harder on God to get through tough times with difficult & disrespectful family members, and tempered my reply to people who misunderstood with gentleness instead of giving in to harshness.
The only thing that would’ve made a difference is spiritual growth. When you actively put God first in your life – in every decision – you start to become more like Him. You learn how to really love others. You learn the difference between judgment of others, and godly discernment of who you should be around. You learn how to handle situations better for all parties involved.