Posts Tagged ‘sacrament of baptism’

Spiritual Growth Takes More Than “Just Add Water”

20130628-144715.jpgSummer is here and that means lots of free time for my dear son. So, the other day, he decided to try out some of his “grow animals.” Grow animals are these little encapsulated sponges that you put in water and they “magically” grow to be ten times their original size. Seeing these animals grow right before my very eyes got me thinking about our spiritual lives and how growth as a Christian doesn’t happen so easily.

What about Baptism?

As a good Lutheran, I am probably missing an opportunity to talk about the Sacrament of Baptism. We Lutherans are big on our Baptismal theology and teaching–through the waters of Baptism God adopts us as sons and daughters. Perhaps “just add water” could be a fun angle for a baptismal post.

But…

Living out our faith day in and day out, growing in Christ throughout our lives over time, is not something that just happens right before our very eyes. We can’t just add water and experience phenomenal growth in minutes. The truth is that even my son’s “grow animals” took more like days than minutes to reach their 10x growth potential.

What is involved with spiritual growth?

Spiritual growth, the ways we learn to rely more upon God and be more like Jesus in how we love our neighbors, involves:

  • God’s love and action for us first and foremost. Our growth in faith is an outgrowth of our trust in what God has first done for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Showing up. How do we “show up” in our spiritual lives? By going to worship–hearing God’s Word and receiving the Sacraments. We also show up through spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study. Showing up at worship and spiritual disciplines gives us opportunities to connect with God which helps us grow in our faith and trust in God.
  • Spending time with fellow Christians and learning together how to best live our lives as the Body of Christ. By being with others who are also trying to live this out and grow in faith, we can share ideas and offer support when needed.
  • Practice over time. Growing in our spiritual lives doesn’t just happen in days or weeks, it takes months and years and decades. It is something that happens over the course of our entire lives.
  • Patience & learning from messes. Sometimes, maybe more often than any of us really want to admit, we mess up. We fail in some way to live up to the name of Christ. Sometimes Christians give Christianity a bad name. It is sad, but true. Instead of wallowing in our messes, we can learn from them and let those lessons become part of our growth.
  • Saying we’re sorry. When we do make messes, it is important to acknowledge them, and to say we’re sorry–to God and to those we’ve harmed. It is difficult for anyone to move forward when messes are left messy.

God is doing it!

Yes, growing in our faith is more complicated than “just add water.” But I do not intend for this list to be a legalistic checklist of whether we’re doing our faith-living right. This is merely descriptive of the types of experiences that contribute to our spiritual growth. Our spiritual growth does not happen on our own. It is not something we have to do for ourselves to make God love us, it is something that God works in and through us. May we each experience God’s love more deeply in our lives as we seek to grow in our love for God and our neighbors.

What do you think? Is there anything you would add to the list of what is involved in spiritual growth? What has helped you grow in your faith?

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If you enjoyed this post about spiritual growth, you may also appreciate the follow up post titled Let’s Talk About Spiritual Shrinking As Well As Spiritual Growth (click the title to read the post).