Summary: Based on Series #3 in Pursuing Spiritual Transformtion by Willow Creek & Zondervan
Growing in Godliness
Fifty years ago, we began to orient our lives around one of the great growth avoidance inventions of all time: the Television. You didn’t have to think, focus your attention, or follow a closely reasoned chain of thought when you were watching “Leave It to Beaver.” But even then you had to get up out of your chair, walk all the way to the TV set and change the channel by hand? Finally came the invention of the ... remote control. Now mankind could change channels from the comfort of our Lazyboy. You want to see how devoted we are to comfort? Walk into the average American home and hide the remote control, and watch what happens. Life without the remote control is an unbearable burden for the average American family. Then someone invented a TV with a beeper so that when you clap your hands or press a button on the TV, the remote control will beep until you find it.
But too much comfort is dangerous. Literally. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley did an experiment sometime ago that involved introducing an amoeba into a perfectly stress-free environment. The ideal temperature, optimal concentration of moisture, and constant food supply. The amoeba had an environment in which it had to make no adjustment whatsoever. So you would guess that, that was one happy little amoeba. Yet, oddly enough, it died. Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even amoebas, that demands challenge. We require change, adaptation, and challenge just as we require food and air to live.. Comfort alone will kill us. When teachers want students to grow, they don’t give them answers, they give them problems! It is only in the process of accepting and solving problems that our ability to think creatively is enhanced, our persistence is strengthened, and our self-confidence is deepened. If someone gives me the answers, I may get a good score on a test, but I will not have grown. Just as our bodies simply will not grow stronger without being challenged to the point of exertion, so it is with our mind and spirit.
Today I want to challenge you to take one more step towards spiritual growth. It begins with our growth towards Godliness. Yes; it’s time to exercise, time to get back in shape for God.
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
I. The Need to Train
A. We are in a race to win.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1Cor. 9:24
-Paul contrast life to a race. In Roman and Greek culture competition was an important part of life.
-Competition is such a big part our modern lives as well.
-Our children are involved in baseball, football, basketball, soccer, track, volleyball, swim team, dance competitions, just to name a few.
-We may say that winning is not important, and that playing the game is the truly important thing, but you watch any game and hear the parents talking about their kids and you soon discover the passion for winning is alive and well.
-Paul says we are in a race and in a race the runners run, they don’t sit on the sidelines.
-Paul says we run to get the prize, we run to win, to cross that finish line.
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:12
-Our battle, or our race is of a spiritual nature, we are not competing against other Christians or those who need Jesus Christ.
-We are competing against Satan! The question you should ask yourself is; Do you want to loose to the devil? Because what is at stake is your eternal soul, where you will spend eternity will be determined by whether you win or lose.
*Let me put it in down to earth terms. You have just found out that you are in a race with the devil and the loser gives up their life. You laugh, yeah right, but you notice old Satan ain’t playing around; he is dead serious and your head is on the chopping block. Now what are you going to do? If you have any smarts at all you are going to run as though your life depended upon it, because it does.
B. We need to prepare ourselves
*You get a call one day from the Olympic committee, saying that you have been selected to carry the Olympic torch along a two mile stretch of road. Your first reaction is you can’t be serious. But imagine you a torch bearer running with your head held high. Then you realize the only running you have done is from the couch to the fridge during commercials. If you are serious about doing this you are going to have to make some changes in your life. You will have to alter your life, change your activities, you will have to go into strict training.