Summary: First message in a series through Colossians. We are expected to GROW
OPEN: Today we are going to be starting in a new series of messages as we start to look at the letter to the Colossians. Every time a pastor starts a new year there is a great deal of prayer that goes into asking the Lord, "What is it that you want me to do with your people this year? On what should I focus? What should our priorities be this year?" Every year you hope you can arrive at a topic or a series of messages that will be relevant and helpful to the kinds of things that are relevant to the church as a whole. So I went through that process this year and to be completely honest with you -- I can't say that I experienced some great epiphany for us. Except that we need to continue to grow and we need more of Jesus. (no matter what catchy approach I might be able to dream up -- it's going to come back to those two issues anyway, right?)
How much have you grown in your walk with the Lord this past year?
If you were able to take a spiritual snapshot of where you were spiritually at this point in your life last year, would that snapshot look different right now? We now have cameras that take all kinds of wonderful pictures. We have camera's that take panoramic pictures. We have camera's that see in the dark. Firemen have camera's that are infrared and pick up subtle changes in temperature readings. If there was a camera that could take a picture of your spiritual growth, what would it look like? More importantly, if you were able to hold two pictures side by side: one from last year and one from today -- would you see a difference? What's you attitude towards spiritual growth? Are you satisfied that the measure of growth you obtained is satisfactory? or are you pressing forward to still higher ground? Are you still a babe in Christ or are you engaged in a process that is moving you towards maturity? Someone once said, "A baby is a digestive apparatus with a loud noise at one end and no responsibility on the other." Are you taking responsibility for spiritual growth?
When it comes to your walk with the Lord, how good is good enough for you? What is your goal in the Christian life? Is your goal to be the best believer you can be for the glory of God? Obviously, our Lord's desire is for us to continue to grow and mature in our faith for all the years God allows us to live. But, if we would be honest with the Lord, most of us would have to admit that our personal spiritual goals are not as ambitious as our Lord would like for them to be. We may be working hard to be a smart student, a wise parent, a successful businessperson, a scratch golfer or a hunter with a 14-point buck as a trophy on the wall. But are we exerting the same effort in growing in Christ-likeness? Isn't it interesting that we will often see the value at growing in those kinds of areas but not in our spiritual life? We'll make great investments in those areas, go to seminars, take additional classes, ready books - but oftentimes when it comes to spiritual growth we are very happy with the status quo? Why it that?
Have you ever thought about just how chaotic life would be if people with critical responsibilities did not always strive for perfection in their job? What if people employed in the medical profession considered 99.9 percent accuracy to be "good enough"? If nurses considered 99 percent to be good enough, 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents to take home every single day. If 99 percent was considered good enough by cardiologists 291 pacemaker operations would be performed incorrectly each and every day. If pharmacists were satisfied with 99 percent accuracy, 20,000 prescriptions would be filled incorrectly every day in this country. Obviously, mediocrity on the part of medical professionals can cause others to pay an unreasonably high price. Imagine a doctor doing an operation leaving an instrument inside of you of you after an operation: "Hey I got most of the instruments out." We don't accept mediocrity in any area of our life -- why would we accept it when it comes to our spiritual life? I know lots of folks who have gone back to school half or two thirds of the way through their working career because they wanted to grow in that area. But at the same time they put no real effort into stimulating growth in their spiritual life.
WARNING -- SUBSTITUTES FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH:
1. Show up -- people who think it's good enough to just show up and fill a chair