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Well, here we are, in week five of this series dealing with spiritual growth. Which means that over the last four weeks, we’ve looked at four things that we can do in order to grow on the inside, you know, in our relationship with God. And during this time, these are the things we’ve talked about. During the first sermon, we considered how, when we recognize our limits, we're more realistic in what we expect and more focused in how we approach God and more patient in our faith. And then, during the second sermon, we looked at how trusting the Lord helps us grow, because that’s really what faith is, you know, trust, and it begins with a decision on our part, and when we decide to trust God, we’re now free to explore different ways we might grow. And in week three, we talked about loving one another, something that makes us to turn from the values of the world and that moves us behind Jesus Christ and that leads us to change our attitudes and our actions. And then last week, we looked at why a desire to make an impact is so important to spiritual growth, you know, how it forces us to listen to others and to look within ourselves and to come closer to God. Now this is what we covered during the last four weeks.
And this morning, we’re going to take what I think you could call the fifth step to genuine growth, and now I’m talking about how sharing the message of Jesus Christ not only helps others but is also something like spiritual Mircle-Gro. And to put this in a Biblical context, just listen to this passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans. He wrote, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”
And so, with all this fear bubbling up within us, it actually seems more likely than not that we’re going to stay silent when we could speak up and hide behind thick walls and stained glass when we could reach out into our world and our community. And even though that decision will certainly hurt others, because sadly right now there are people in our families and in our neighborhoods and in our community who may never hear about the unconditional love and the irresistible grace and the unmerited mercy of God if we don’t share it with them, although we are going to hurt them when we’re silent, I’m telling you, we’re also going to hurt ourselves, and I’m talking spiritually. You see, all this fear and confusion and doubt is going to distract us from God’s word, a word that tells us to get up and share. And it’s going to separate us from the world around us, deluding us into believing that our faith can be private and our church can cater to members first and maybe only. But worst of all, as we allow fear to cause us to pull back and to quiet down and to hide within, I’m telling you, that’s going to prevent us from ever spiritually growing into the men and women God created us to be.
You know, I don’t think it matters how much it’s drilled into our heads. Down deep we all know that we’re called to share the message of Jesus with others. But we also know that fear, fear of not knowing enough, fear of approaching people, fear of failure, we also know that fear can keep us still and silent. And even though that certainly impacts those who may never have the chance to hear, we also hurt ourselves. But if we decide to study God’s word and to think about different ways we might approach others and to trust God, I think we can get past the fear. And when we do, not only will our understanding of the Bible and our understanding others and ourselves and our understand of God, not only will all that grow, so will our confidence and our comfort and our peace.