The Process of Spiritual Growth

Paul reinforces his exhortation in chapters 1 and 2 by helping us realize that even though we hear the message of Christ from men, God does the real work.  It is He that causes others to believe.  Belief and faith are processes.  Paul uses the analogy of feeding babies to the spiritual growth of those he is addressing.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

3 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

We have fallen victim to continually desire instant gratification in everything we do.  We rely on our feelings to dictate our satisfaction instead of looking around us and taking in a more global view.  We cannot approach spiritual matters this way, regardless of what side we are on.  If we are trying to explain to someone the existence of God or if we are trying to understand it ourselves, we aren’t going to get it right away.  If it was this simple, the bible wouldn’t be as vast as it is and the sanctification process wouldn’t even exist.  Yet the bible is huge and we spend a lifetime building our relationship with God.  This is because it isn’t about a one time event, it is about a relationship.

Just as we grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, we grow spiritually.  From conception to death we are continually growing (or at least have the potential to grow).  This does not satisfy us since we have been conditioned to be happy immediately or it isn’t worth the trouble.  We wonder why we have the most things accessible to us yet have the highest depression rate.  We are focusing on the wrong things!  Our feelings betray us and when we rely on them as the gauge of our contentment or fulfillment in life, we betray ourselves.  It intrigues me that nonbelievers think that our relationship with God is about feeling good about ourselves or that belonging to a religion is about feeling down about yourself and therefore you need God to feel good about yourself again.  The problem about this approach is that 1) it isn’t even close to being biblically based and 2) it isn’t about us at all!

After an interesting conversation yesterday about proving the existence of God, I realized that we continually go to the wrong source for information.  Men can’t prove the existence of God any more than a car can tell you about the personality of the CEO of its company.  Certainly the car can give you some information about it but wouldn’t it be more advantageous to go directly to the source?  Furthermore, as believers, all we can do is point others towards the source.  We can present them with our belief and reasons for it but truly it won’t make much sense unless someone takes the path on their own.  The relationship isn’t between them, God, and us; it is between them and God.

Most importantly, we must realize that our spiritual growth takes time, just like any other kind of growth.  We can’t just plop ourselves in the waters of baptism and instantly expand like those old school sponge pills that would turn into different shapes.  Even that has a process of growth!

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