Christian Growth

My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.
Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

  • Psalm 71:18-19

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

  • Isaiah 46:3-4

He carries out his decree against me,
    and many such plans he still has in store.

  • Job 23:14

Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.
Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
    “Everything is meaningless!”

  • Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

  • Psalm 139:16

“ ‘Welcome, child,’ he said.
‘Aslan,’ said Lucy, ‘you’re bigger.’
‘That is because you are older, little one,’ answered he.
‘Not because you are?’
‘I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.’ “

  • C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

First, I would like to thank Finishing Well Ministries, as I borrowed their list of Bible references regarding Christian Growth from one of their online articles.  They went on to say that the first 16 verses of Psalm 139 teach God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and then omnipotence.  How can we grow as a Christian?  By realizing how big and powerful our God is.

Second, if C. S. Lewis was alive on the day this is posted, he would be 124 years old today.  He died on the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, 22 November 1963.

But now I look at the Sunday school class in which I teach.  When the previous teacher taught the class, there were about 20 regular members.  When he became ill and eventually passed away, I promised him that I would never “take over his class. I would only hold the place until his return.”  There is a resurrection of the dead, and I hope to be true to my word, in some kind of spiritual sense.  But as of this past Spring, we were averaging about 15 people in attendance.  Now it is about 10 people in attendance.  Yes, the church has other Sunday school classes for adults that range in attendance from 5 to 10 each.  But when you include all adults either teaching Sunday school or attending, you get about 7-8 percent of the membership of the church.

I went to a different church before the present one.  In one adult Sunday school class, they had photographs from the 1950s hanging on the wall.  One was filled with men.  The other was filled with women.  The photographs were taken in front of the church.  They were photographs of the adult men’s Sunday school class and the adult women’s Sunday school class.  Each photograph had over fifty people in the picture.  When I attended, they had 5-6 total adults attending Sunday school.  The church had lost its way because the adults thought they knew enough.  The church no longer exists.  The preacher, who I refuse to call a pastor for his lack of pastoring, retired.  The church shrugged their shoulders.  They had no one with the spiritual gifts and spiritual growth to search for a new pastor.

Is this how the Church in the world today will die?  From apathy?  From a lack of Christian growth?

Sure, you can grow by listening to the pastor and taking the message to heart during the week, but we are to be Christians 24 hours each day, seven days each week, but we refuse to give God two hours on Sunday.

C. S. Lewis’ words ring true with me.  Whenever I fail to grow as a Christian, it is because my concept of God is not big enough.  If the God that we imagine is small, then we can ignore Him.  Maybe I should not have capitalized “Him’ as He might not be that big or important.

Now you true Christians out there are shouting and pulling your hair.  If you truly believe, then God is as Psalm 139 starts off, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  And I do not think that there is only 7-8 percent of true Christians in the church, each church, worldwide.

But then, even the greatest believer will slip up and sin once in a while.  Why?  Does that Saint among saints think that God turned His head and is not as omnipresent as He was a moment ago?  Did God get distracted and His omniscience faltered?  Were we not worried about God’s omnipotent lightning bolt zapping us?  Or maybe it was our own flaw in not having a big enough God.  How else could you describe it?

But let’s take a different look at those 20 people in the former teacher’s class.  Death has claimed a couple.  A couple moved to another class.  Some have cancer or debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s and advanced COPD.

But why are no younger people joining the class?  I have had some young adults in the class, but at least one couple is among those who went to another class.  Some might say that the style needs to be jazzed up.  But for over ten years, I led the Video College of Biblical Knowledge.  That is a fancy name to combat the pastor who called it the Adult Video Discussion Class.  Whenever he said that, someone in the back of the room would yell, “I bet!! Some discussion!!”  To combat that, the name had to change, but people still did not fill the room and the younger adults visited for a week or two and got bored.  We had the audacity of turning off the video and discussing it.  Yikes!  They might have to say something.  And that left a lot of 50–80-year-old class members.

Part of the problem is an extension of our education system.  Students are not taught how to think in school anymore.  Why have a need to think in Sunday school or for that matter, in life?

But what of faith?  If our God is small, He cannot protect us.  He cannot lift us up when we fall.  Thus, our faith is small.  We are in a boat in rough water without even an oar or rudder.  Our God is big enough to be both things at once, but we have not pictured that size of a God in our mind.  Our faith has not grown.

Is the Christian community as a whole satisfied with sneaking into Heaven through the back door?  Maybe the New Jerusalem has a ghetto where the Christians who never grew can live.

No, say it is not so.  If God means our very life to us, as in He is our Savior, then God must be bigger than we imagine.  Let us live with that as our most important Truth in our lives.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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