When someone is born into our faith, they are childlike in their understanding of it. In order to learn more, Christians must practice doing right from wrong. Only then can we build on that to gain a greater understanding of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual growth is loosely similar to human development. There are only so many things a small child can understand. Their world is limited by their experience, the stage of development they are in, and by what they have learned about the world around them. As she grows older and experiences life for herself, she gains a better understanding of it and a different perspective than what she had when she was younger. Her development continues on through adulthood until the end of her life.
In the beginning, we are totally dependent on others and need to be carried for we cannot walk far distances on our own. Later, it will be our turn to do the carrying. Fortunately, we do not need to carry alone.
The more a person practices Jesus’ teachings (for example, the more he or she prays and practices doing the right thing), the more likely he develops spiritually. As a person’s spiritually matures, his understanding of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit matures. He will have had greater life experiences, and he will have had opportunities to learn from his mistakes and accept responsibility for them. With God’s grace, he is developing the capacity to love selflessly, to serve others, and to share Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness.
Not all Christians will have the same understanding of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Not all will have the same understanding of the Bible and what it means to be a Christian in the world we live in. Not all will have the same exposure to God’s Word or desire to obey Him. Not all will have the same commitment to make Jesus a priority. Jesus understands this. He understands that we are each on a unique journey towards God — and that such journeys can be hard. Jesus understands that we must work through periods of temptation, confusion or misdirection and that we cannot do it without Him, but that we have a choice. Jesus understands us, loves us, and forgives us for our sins. Jesus carried our guilt for us and died for us so that we wouldn’t have to; He defeated death so we too could have everlasting life.
I believe Jesus calls upon each of us to share His message of love and forgiveness. I believe He calls upon us to share His dream of love for God and for each other. I also believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit help us when we do.
Our faith is not meant to be stagnant nor remain hidden. Yet, for reasons known only to God, some Christians ignore their faith or abandon it; some become distracted and stall or slide backwards; and, others neglect to share Christ’s message of love and forgiveness, keeping their relationship with Christ a secret onto themselves. Best case is they are developing Christians in a spiritual sense; possibly, they fear persecution or ridicule; worse case is they are not really Christians at all.
“There is much more I would like to say along these lines, but you don’t seem to listen, so its hard to make you understand. You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others, but instead you have dropped back to the place where you need someone to teach you all over again the very first principles in God’s Word. You are like babies who can drink only milk, not old enough for solid food. And when a person is still living on milk it shoes he isn’t very far along in the Christian life, and doesn’t know much about the difference between right and wrong. He is still a baby Christian! You will never be able to eat solid spiritual food and understand the deeper things of God’s Word until you become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right.” (Hebrews 5:12-14)
I have begun sharing my feelings about Christ with others who ask me about it. That is one of the reasons for this blog. Do I have all the answers about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? Absolutely not. I do not claim that I do, and I certainly am not a religious leader or scholar. But my faith is not stagnant; it grows stronger every day. I believe that the path to God is through Jesus, and I believe it is His wish that I acknowledge Him.
One of my hopes is that people will reach out to me and share with me their knowledge of Christ so we have an opportunity to challenge and learn from one another respectfully.
As I make changes in my life to become the person God wants me to be, and as I begin to talk about my faith, I realize I appear foolish to some of my family, friends and acquaintances. It hurts sometimes, especially when I am ridiculed or treated like a fool. I remind myself that the Bible teaches I should not worry about what other people think of me if I am pleasing God. I remind myself that there are worse things than being called a fool: It would be worse if I stopped trying to please God.
“You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10, the Apostle Paul)
And in truth, I was once considered a fool by some because my faith was very weak and I never spoke about it; now I am considered a fool by some because my faith is very strong and I share it. I am quite content with being the latter fool if I am right with God.
For a fool who pleases God is no fool at all.
Photo by Lucian Coman