As I walked to the gym today, contemplating recent idiocies, I asked God, "I've been a believer for what, 24 years now? I should be more sanctified than I am! Why am I dealing with these same temptations? They've been around for years - I should be used to them by now. I should be able to dismiss them like a pesky fly."
Almost instantly, a reply came, "Yes, but even pesky flies must be constantly battled if you choose to sit in manure."
I had nothing to say to that.
Yet my silence acquiescence was not the end of the issue. Last week, I was sick on Sunday so I couldn't go to church. Thankfully, they posted the sermon on their FB page.
The topic? Christian spiritual growth.
I took that as an indication tonight would be a good night to catch up, and I felt and impending sense of irony.
One of the points on spiritual growth, or sanctification, was, "Spiritual growth has nothing to do with time."
That caught my attention.
Pastor Bruce went further to say, "It is not measured by the calendar. How do we know that? Some of you have been born again for many, many years and you're still in diapers."
Both comforting and saddening, yes?
Pastor also addressed another point that applied/applies to me, "Spiritual growth is not related to knowledge, per se. You can acquire Biblical information or Biblical theology and still be a baby. Until that knowledge is applied and causes you to be more conformed to Christ, it is just head knowledge. Now, we've met people with a lot of 'head knowledge' but no heart transformation, and (how many know) they become hardened to spiritual things because they think they've got it all figured out."
I definitely know I don't have it all figured out. I wish I did, but, alas, I don't. I do know how much of an idiot I was in my early and mid twenties, thinking all the things I learned growing up, regurgitated in the form of prayers, journals, papers, and philosophical "debates" were the equivalent of being godly. I know I became hardened to spiritual things, even cast my faith aside for a time and developed some nasty habits.
Toward the end of the "Spiritual growth is not __" portion of his message, Pastor said, "John makes clear in our teaching today (listen carefully): There is room in the church for babies." [Dramatic pause.] "Both new babies, and chronic babies." I could hear the congregation laugh. "Some of us have been babies for thirty years, okay? But (how many know) that's good news, that's the point of our teaching. There is room for stages of growth."
But he also makes clear that growing up is necessary.
Growing up is rough.
For those interested, here's the whole sermon: http://vimeo.com/47045683