Summary: Just as a mother encourages her child to walk, God encourages us to grow spiritually.
Therefore if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why do you subject yourself to regulations as if you still belonged to this world? You say, "Don’t touch this! Don’t eat that! Don’t handle that!" You are entirely preoccupied with perishable things. Your commandments and doctrines are merely human and not divinely inspired. To be sure, your teachings have a semblance of wisdom in promoting religious observance, outward humility, and self-denial--but they lack any genuine value in restraining the flesh, because they deal only with externals.But if you truly are risen with Christ, seek instead those things which are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ our Life appears, then you shall also appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 2:20-3:4)
It seems strange that God gives us so much responsibility for our own spiritual growth, for He is quite aware how childish and irresponsible we are! He knows our natures are intrinsically flawed. He know that we have a congenital aversion to holiness, and we will always be seeking the easy way out.
Many Christians, recognizing their own sinful propensities, feel incapable of taking responsibility for their own spiritual growth. Such Christians find refuge in authoritarian churches and denominations which thrive on ordinances concerning what to wear, what to eat and drink, what to watch, what to say, what to think, how to marry, how to raise children, and so on. Such churches give a comforting sense of regularity, certainty, control, and discipline, which for some people outweighs the occasional unpleasantness incurred by the strictness of the imposed rules. However, the above scripture from Colossians makes it clear that true holiness is much more than adherence to a set of fixed rules for living.
True holiness involves the perpetual pursuit of God. To grow in holiness, it is sometimes necessary to do unpleasant, discomfiting things, which we naturally try to avoid. God helps us make progress in holiness just like a mother teaches her child to walk: by setting the child on its feet, stepping back a few paces, and holding out her arms to the child. The child’s desire for the mother’s touch and her praises overwhelms any hesitancy and fear in walking.
To make true progress in holiness, we must have our spiritual eyes opened to see God’s hands outstretched to us. If we see Him, the Christian life is filled with hope and joyful expectation; but if we don’t, it is full of dread, uncertainty, and suffering.
Prayer: Father, please open my eyes to see You standing before me beckoning me onward, waiting to catch and embrace me. Gently pry my fingers free of the human supports and "religious" rules I use to hold me up, so that I may learn to walk balanced in the Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, in whose outstretched hands on the cross I see Your hands stretching out towards me.