Most followers of Jesus want to be “spiritually mature.” The question is, “How does God intend to help me become more spiritual?” What is the process that the Lord uses to help me to become more like Jesus?
I remember our kids huddling around the kitchen waiting for the fresh baked bread to come out of the oven. The repeated response was, “Is it done yet?” as they peered through the oven window It is easy for us to attempt to rush what the Lord is doing in our lives and worse to get discouraged when it does not happen as quickly as we want.
I could write a series of articles on the follower of Jesus’ spiritual development. I have in the past written about the importance of reading and studying God’s Word. I have also emphasized the necessity to memorize Scripture. I have also dealt with the urgency of prayer. I will not be addressing any of these and other “spiritual disciplines.” I would like to focus on the process of how the Lord works in your life.
The simple answer to how God “grows” us is “step by step.” This process runs contrary to our contemporary mindset of instant gratification. It is easy to complain about lines at the bank, the fast food restaurant and even at doctor’s office. The focus in today’s marketing is on instant gratification. We have all been tempted with the “You can own this today for so much per month!”
It is in 2 Corinthians 3 where Paul is actually giving us a glimpse into “Authentic Ministry” by defending his ministry. It is at the end of chapter 3 that he reminds us of the process that the Lord uses to help us as Christians “grow up!” He writes, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The recipe for spiritual development has many different ingredients but the process involved is step by step. The emphasis in the word “transformation” is on change that takes time and happens from the inside out. We get our English word metamorphosis from the Greek word. Just as the transformation of a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly takes time so does your spiritual transformation. It is a step by step process of radical change in the believer’s life from the inside out.
It is difficult for us to practically grasp that spiritual development will be the work of our lifetime. As Paul reminds us, this process happens step by step. Jesus’ brother James also reminded us that each life situation is an opportunity for growth. James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4)
Can I encourage you to take a deep breath and let God be God in your life? He knows what he is doing. He is working in your life through each of the daily situations that he allows to come your way. Yes, the practice of Spiritual Disciplines will help you. But remember that you are God’s project. Paul reminds us again, ““And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson