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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spiritual Growth

So I'm teaching this course on character at my church the other night, and one of the guys in the class asks me to define spiritual maturity or spiritual growth. Wow! What a difficult question! Of course, I wanted to have a snappy answer.

I wanted to confidently just jump right up there and explain it all to him. The truth of the matter though is that it wasn't that easy. As I stood there trying to think of an intelligent response to his great question, I found myself more than stumped.

Finally, I began to explain to him (and the rest of the group) that when I had first become a Christ-follower, I gained a new awareness of a level of ignorance I never thought I had. In fact, my own ignorance seemed to lie before me like a vast, unfolding sea or ocean. And it looked that endless. The more focused I got on God and His agenda, the more aware I became of this sea of ignorance that seemed to surround me.

As I have grown in Christ, however, I find that the ignorance begins to dissipate. Slowly - but surely, I get grounded in God's truth. I learn God's truth and hide it in my heart ... with regards to relationships, life, who I am, who God is, how the world works, and other such matters. To be sure, there's a lot of learning there to be had.

The coolest thing I've discovered about God's truth is that it defeats ignorance. Every time. God's truth, revealed in God's people, overpowers ignorance - just like it overpowers evil. In fact, I've come to equate ignorance with evil. They both seem to have the same effects. And the fact that both are defeated with God's truth, from God's Word, revealed in God's people - quite frankly excites and invigorates me.

So the question was to define spiritual growth. I finally defined it as a fading away of my ignorance. And someone else (a pastor on staff at our church) added that it would include a growing awareness of God. Of course I agreed with that. When evil and ignorance are overpowered and defeated, God Himself is revealed.

We often talk about people as being spiritually mature, having a level of spiritual maturity, or growing in spiritual maturity. But you know, I don't think I've ever heard anyone really define what that means. Without a succinct definition, maybe it's just a religious platitude that should be disregarded. But I think I'd rather wrestle with the definition.

It's still true ... that I've never been more aware of my own ignorance than I am today. But it's equally true that ignorance isn't a place God will ever allow His people to live in. No, He leads us from that vast sea of ignorance - and into His truth. And God Himself is revealed. Lord, help me grow and be more spiritually mature than ever then!

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