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Who wants to have an Ephesians 4:14 faith? If you look at scripture you will find that it is easy. All you have to do is remain a baby in the faith, allow yourself to be subject to trickery, become intrigued with each new theology-of-the-day, and then you will become easy prey for deceitful scheming by others. That doesn’t sound like a very good faith does it?
Paul gives us another alternative and that is to have an Ephesians 4:13 faith. This will be characterized by unity with others through faith in Jesus Christ and a growing and maturing faith that will transform us so we can live a more Christ-like life. Before I look at how we can have a growing and maturing faith I want to look at some faith assumptions that are false.
First, spiritual growth is automatic once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This is false, for the Bible makes it clear that at conversion we are still babes in the faith. It takes time, discipline and the choice of good role models to grow in the faith.
Second, spiritual growth is mystical and maturity is attainable by only a few. This makes for an easy excuse not to work on faith. Anyone and everyone can grow spiritually. It takes discipline and the habits of spiritual growth. There are no easy steps to spiritual growth. It is a commitment that takes a lifetime.
Third, spiritual growth is a personal and private matter. This is false because we need each other to grow spiritually. We need to allow people in our lives we trust to share fellowship and allow accountability.
From the very beginning Jesus never intended Christianity to be a solitary faith, but taught his disciples to work together to be more effective in spreading the good news of the Gospel.
Finally, all you need is to focus on one discipline: worship, Bible study, prayer, etc. If we think that just going to worship is enough then we will only grow in one area of our faith.
This promotes stereotypes like the Sunday Christian: I have gone to church, now I can check that off my list, or the pious Christian: My life is full of prayer, but there is no faith put to action.
So how does spiritual growth happen?
First, it takes a change of heart, a commitment in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We need a Lord, a king for our lives, who knows what God’s will is for our lives, and will guide us along the journey of life. We need a Savior to set us free from the guilt and shame of our sinful lives, so we can be free to live our lives to glorify God.
Second, you will learn to trust your life to Jesus as you practice the spiritual disciplines of faith. This is what Jesus desires for your life. He wants you to grow in disciplines such as worship, prayer, Bible study, evangelism, tithing, service, and caring for other Christians in fellowship.
Third, we need to make a life long commitment to this way of life. I believe in big commitments. I believe people like to be inspired to do something great. I can’t call you to a greater commitment than to become more like Christ and mature in faith.
Samuel Smiles wrote these words a century ago. Sow a thought and you reap an act. Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.
How are you growing in your faith? How many spiritual disciplines do you practice regularly?
Make a list and share specific examples with someone to hold yourself accountable.
How have you put your faith into action this week? God desires to be at the center of everything we do in life, and therefore affect every aspect of your life.
Is that the way you experience God?
Al Earley is the pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.