Garry looked at the topic of ‘Growing in God’ this morning, basing his thoughts on his continuing study of 2 Peter 1:8-9 TNIV. If we are to grow in God, change, faith and risk will all need to be incorporated into our lives.
Growing involves change
To paraphrase The Clash, the question facing us all is ‘should I stay or should I grow?’ Quite often, we tend to prefer the status quo, but we have to let go of the familiar if we are to see spiritual growth. Some people embrace change easily; others feel that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Whichever camp we prefer, we have to be willing to change if we are to grow. Often, we are resistant to change imposed on us from the outside because we like to feel in control or because we feel that those forcing change on us do not understand the whole situation fully, but God is our ‘constant through the trial and the change’ (‘One Thing Remains’) and definitely knows the whole situation! When God changes things, we have to be able to trust that He is acting out of love and is working all things together for good. We have to be sure and certain of who God is and what He is like if we are to embrace the often turbulent changes He brings into our lives to move us towards growth.
Growing involves pain
Children often experience ‘growing pains’ as they grow, but the pains we face on life’s journey are often just as painful as these physical symptoms. Often, we don’t understand what God is doing when things are changing. As we journeyed towards the acquisition of St Mark’s, there were many setbacks when we did not understand God’s ways, but at those points on the journey of change, we have to trust that He will not give us more than we can bear (1 Cor 10:13 TNIV). Often, when we experience physical pain, our bodies try to compensate for this by minimising what that part of the body has to do, but sometimes we have to push on beyond the pain barrier in order to get to a better place. We want an ‘easier way’, but sometimes the easier way is not the right one (see Matt 4:8-9 TNIV).
Growing involves faith
Without faith to hold on to God and all that He is doing in periods of change, we will give up. So often, we prefer the tangible and visible to walking by faith. Gideon led the Israelites to a great victory, but shortly afterwards, the people succumbed to making idols out of gold (see Judges 8:22-27 TNIV). It’s easy for our hearts to fall back into dependence on material things (see 1 Tim 6:17 TNIV), but we need to let go of our need for independence and control in order to depend on Him. Doing God’s work in God’s way will always require faith.
Growing involves mistakes
With faith comes the possibility of making mistakes. We don’t always get it right! Taking risks is…risky! When we make mistakes, we have to be prepared to admit to these and to repent and be contrite. We have to turn our backs on pride and allow God to guide us, remembering that in God’s faith work, there is no place for ‘lone rangers’. God can speak to each one of us, but there is a need for us to work together (which can often help to reduce the chance of making mistakes.) We desperately seek God’s wisdom in these matters, but someone has once wryly remarked that ‘wisdom is the product of survivable mistakes.’ We need not despair when mistakes are made, but can rely on God’s forgiveness and know that we can start afresh in Him.