“To grow in Christ, we don’t set out to grow; we set out to taste his goodness.” TweetTo grow in Christ, we don’t set out to grow; we set out to taste his goodness. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2–3). Just as God alone is the giver of growth for individuals and his kingdom, so Christ alone is the focal point for both individuals and his church. How does the whole body grow? By “holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Jesus is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18); she only grows as she holds fast to him (see also Ephesians 4:15–16).
“The repeated focus in our spiritual exercises must be on Jesus, and not our effort.” TweetThe great end of our habits of grace is knowing and enjoying him. The final joy in any truly Christian discipline, practice, or rhythm of life is “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). “This is eternal life,” and this is the goal of the means of his grace in word, prayer, and fellowship: “that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). When all is said and done, our hope is not to be a skilled Bible-reader, practiced pray-er, faithful churchman, or visibly mature Christian, but to be the one who “understands and knows me, that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24). And so our heartbeat in the habits we develop for hearing every word, speaking every prayer, and participating in every act of fellowship is Hosea 6:3: “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord.” Knowing and enjoying Jesus is the final end of hearing his voice, having his ear, and belonging to his body. God’s means of grace, and their many good expressions, will serve to make us more like him, but only as our focus returns continually to Christ himself, not our own Christlikeness. It is in “beholding the glory of the Lord” that we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“Spiritual growth is a marvelous effect of spiritual discipline, but it is only an effect.” TweetSo, “train yourself for godliness; [it] is of value in every way” (1 Timothy 4:7–8). Amen. May you ever improve in Christ. And remember that your godliness is never the end. Growth is not the goal. Spiritual growth is a marvelous effect of spiritual discipline, but it is only an effect. The heart in every habit serves this one great end: knowing and enjoying Jesus.
Did you know that almost six out of ten teens leave the church at some point? Nearly 60% of high school students who grow up going to church will close the doors to a Christian life. And usually, they don't come back (survey by the Barna Group). "Because of people breaking the laws and sin being everywhere, the love in the hearts of many people will become cold." Matthew 24:12
Whenever I answer a question like this, I’m deeply aware that someone may be reading this who is seriously contemplating suicide—and I would do everything in my power to convince them not to take that final, drastic step. With Christ, there is always hope. If that’s you, please hear me. Don’t you dare do that! Jesus and I deeply love you and need you.
(This post is written to Christian women and is based on a biblical worldview, supported with Scripture. Since the writing of this post, a sequel has been written, The Motive to Modesty.) Hurriedly I raked through my second dresser drawer in the dim light of the unlit closet, scrambling for pants of some kind. Finding some, I grabbed a workout shirt, jammed feet into tennis shoes and breathlessly answered the door for Mr. M. “Ready for breakfast?” he asked.