Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday's Essay - For You

Below is an essay that I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. You can hear a podcast of this message by going to the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
 If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal

On Sunday we’re starting a sermon series entitled, “Spiritual Growth for Short People.” During the next six weeks, we’ll talk about how folks who may feel a little spiritually short might grow in their relationship with and understanding of God. Now, personally, I’m anxious to begin working on these sermons, because I know this applies to me. I mean, even though I’ve got all kinds of theological education, I recognize that I have plenty of room for growth. And so, these services will definitely help me. And if you share my perspective and want to grow spiritually into the person God created you to be, then I think you might find this series helpful as well.

But having said that, I also recognize that these messages might not be for everybody. In fact, they may not be for you. You see, I think there are two kinds of Christians for whom this kind of stuff might not be helpful at all. For example, there are plenty of believers who think that they really don’t need to grow spiritually at all. You see, for them, spiritual growth is unnecessary, because they’ve already achieved all the growth they’ll ever need. In other words, although this growth business may be fine for you or for me, their relationship with God couldn’t be better than it already is and their understanding of his will and word is everything it’s suppose to be. And even though they’d probably never apply it to any other aspect of their lives and they sure wouldn’t want their doctor to carry this perspective into his or her approach to medicine, with respect to God, they are as tight as anyone would want to be, thank you very much. Of course, in my experience, these folks generally see the Christian life like sort of an “on and off” switch rather than a process. In other words, it all happens when faith is turned on. At that time, they received everything they need to receive. And they entered a relationship that couldn’t be any better than it is. They were lost and are now found. They were blind but now they see. Now that’s how they understand living the faith, and whatever it was that lit the fuse, whether it was participating in a certain ritual or having a certain experience or making a certain promise, at that point they received the whole ball of wax. And for that reason, any consideration of further growth and maturity is really a waste of time. When you have it all, why would you seek to get anymore? And for that reason, if you believe that you’re a spiritual giant and any additional growth might cause the law of diminishing returns to kick in, this series just might not be for you.

And I think the same thing may apply to all those Christians who feel as though any kind of growth would be impossible. They just don’t have it in them. They just aren’t able, and no amount of spiritual Miracle-Gro is going to change that. I mean, why waste the time and energy to do something that won’t work anyway. Of course, while the “I’ve got it all” believers often have their toes on the arrogance line, these men and women have crossed from humility to despair. Their mantra is “I can’t do it.” I’m not capable of growing. And I’m sure not smart enough to understand nor am I spiritual enough to have anything deeper than the most basic relationship with God. If the Christian life is like a marathon, not only have they fallen at the starting line, but they can’t get up. Now, that’s what they seem to believe, and if that’s the case for you, hearing how you might grow and how your relationship with God might become more meaningful and how your understanding of his word and will might become deeper and more profound, well, that would just add insult to injury. And I can tell you, no one wants that. Now if I’ve just described you, then this series just might not be for you either.

But as you look at your life, if you believe that there are faith-related areas where you might become stronger and if you believe that faith is something a person grows into and that this growth process takes a lifetime and if you believe that you haven’t yet become everything God has created you to be, plan on coming to Cove on Sunday. And if you believe that you’re a child of God and if you believe that he’s given you the ability to grow and achieve and if you believe that you’re able to become more than you are right now, join with us as we consider ways we might grow. In other words, if you believe that you still have growth potential, this series is definitely for you.

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