How do we grow spiritually?
Growing spiritually is like tanning.
I’m not an expert on tanning—I play too much Madden for that—but I know the basics. You stand or lay in the sun, you get crispy friend gorgeous. After a period of time you flip so you don’t burn. I've been a little more tan recently due to a certain popular augmented reality video game has caused me to venture outside more than usual.
Let’s just say trying to catch ‘em all has it's physical benefits.
Back to tanning, some mechanics for turning golden brown run parallel to becoming spiritual mature. To make this analogy work, though, I’m going to have to get a bit technical.
Let me explain a popular phrase in Christian theology: “means of grace.”
A means of grace is something that brings us closer to God. They are experiences or actions God uses to build our spiritual muscles. Some well practiced means of grace include baptism, communion (eating the bread & wine or crackers & juice on Sunday mornings), reading the Bible, prayer, caring for those in need, and being a part of a local church. We don’t quite understand HOW God uses these things to reinforce us, but we know that He does. It’s a mystery, but it’s a good mystery.
Simply put: When we access these means of grace, we grow spiritually.
It’s like tanning.
During the day, the sun’s rays are always available. You can sit outside and get a nice dark bake by exposing yourself to the light already there. If you stay inside, you remain pale like my video gaming friends and me. The sun is there. The sun is shining. All you have to do is step into it’s rays and you’ll be affected.
God’s grace is there, and we can easily access the means. Even if it’s not Sunday you can grow with God. On Mondays you can care for those in need. Are you homebound? Read the Bible (here’s a great resource to get you started). Don’t have a Bible? You should probably buy one, download the YouVersion app, or get on biblegateway.com. Internet down and still no Bible? You can pray! Prayer is a free, no equipment needed, no others needed means of grace.
As long as you give it time, you can be transformed by God.
Another point to be made: You didn’t tan yourself. The sun did it. No one can just imagine themselves a darker hue. If someone compliments your tan, replying, “Oh thanks, I just sat in my room and concentrated really hard on the color I wanted my skin to be and PRESTO!” would get you dubious looks. The sun is responsible for your tan. Your role is to step out into the light.
We don’t grow ourselves spiritually. God does that work. We can put ourselves in the right place, we can practice habits that are known to make us stronger. Each day I try to put myself in the path of grace by reading scripture and praying. Even though I’m taking the time for the task, I’m not the catalyst for growth. God does the heavy lifting, I just open the front door for Him. God doesn’t NEED these common means to grow us, either. We just know, through centuries of experience, that God has a habit of using these means to help us sprout.
So means of grace are mysterious avenues that God uses to strengthen our faith. We cannot do it ourselves. Instead, we’ve got access to God’s transforming power any time. All we have to do is stand in the path of his grace. Luckily, we’ll never burn if we linger in God’s rays. Give God the time, and he'll give you the strength.
How will you standing in the path of God’s grace? Tell me in the comment section!