Summary: 3rd in a series on Christian Growth. Every Christian experiences hindrances to Christian growth. This message deals with some of them.
READ Hebrews 5:11-14
In this series of messages on spiritual growth, we have established two things.
The first truth we have established is that the Christian life is not a once-for-all event but a continuous process. At conversion, we become a new person in Jesus Christ. Then, for the rest of our lives as Christians, we are "to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15).
The second truth we have established is that there are some basic disciplines which we can apply to our lives which will enable us to experience that growth. We’ve looked at two of these disciplines: Bible study and prayer.
These two truths ...that we are supposed to grow as Christians and that by applying some basic disciplines to our lives will grow ... should lead to a third truth: every Christian experiences growth.
Unfortunately, this does not happen. Although all Christians should grow and all Christians can grow all Christians do not grow.
What keeps us from growing spiritually? In this final message on developing our spirituality, I want to identify these hindrances to spiritual growth.
Hindrance #1: Lack of Knowledge
Sometimes we do not grow because of a lack of knowledge. This is especially true of new Christians.
Someone once suggested that we should lock up new Christians for a year so they won’t do much damage to the cause of Christ. Their zeal and enthusiasm often exceed their knowledge and understanding. This was of course a frivolous statement, but the point is valid. New Christians have more enthusiasm than they have knowledge.
Maybe this is a problem for some of you. You really want to grow. You want to experience everything which is coming to you as a follower of Jesus Christ. However, you do not yet have enough knowledge about spiritual things to know what to do to experience those blessings.
What is the solution to this problem? Let me mention three steps which will help. First, begin a consistent plan of Bible study. Second, decide to read at least one book a month on spiritual things. Third, establish a relationship with a more mature Christian which include getting together at least once a month for prayer and discussion.
Hindrance #2: Lack of Enthusiasm
Sometimes we do not grow because of a lack of enthusiasm. This is especially true of someone who has been a Christian for a long time. The greatest indictment of many Christians is not that they are falling short of the mark but that they have quit striving to reach the mark. They have become complacent about the Christian life.
Maybe this is a problem with some of you. You have been a Christian for so long that it has become boring to you. You know enough to grow as a Christian. Yet, you have lost the spirit of enthusiasm in your Christian life.
What is the solution.
Here are some suggestions.
First, find someone who has a need and begin to minister to that person.
Second, look around for Christians who seem to have that contagious enthusiasm and set up some specific times to be with them.
Third, write a story about your own conversion experience.
Sometimes remembering our initial encounter with Christ will rejuvenate our faith.
Hindrance #3: Lack of Wonder
Sometimes the problem is not that we lack knowledge or enthusiasm. Sometimes the problem is that we begin to take God’s blessings for granted and get so accustomed to them that they fail to stimulate us as they once did. In this case, the problem is a lack of wonder.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that if the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to look at them. Since they come out every night, we soon take them for granted.
Maybe this is a problem for you. You have been so blessed for so long that you are no longer aware of these blessings nor are you grateful for them.
What can we do when we have lost the wonder? Let me offer these solutions.
First, spend some time observing nature.
Andre Gide told of a time when, during a classroom lecture, he observed a moth being reborn from its chrysalis. He was filled with wonder and awe at this marvelous metamorphosis. Enthusiastically, he showed to it his professor who replied with a note of disapproval, "Didn’t you know that a chrysalis is the envelop of a butterfly? Every butterfly you see has come out of a chrysalis.
It’s perfectly natural." Gide said, "I knew my natural history as well, perhaps better than he.... but because it was natural, could he not see that it was marvelous?"
Second, spend some time reading about and learning about the world in which we live. Some television programs provide mind expanding stories about the marvelous animals and the other living creatures of this world which God has made.