Monday, January 2, 2012

2 January: Growing up into Christ

Opening Sentence
Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy, which will come to all the people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10, 11

Collect of the Day
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 34

Lessons: 1 Kings 19:1-8, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:1-14

Paul paints a picture of growing out of what might be called “spiritual childhood” or “spiritual adolescence” and into “mature manhood,” reflecting the image and likeness of Christ “in every way.” This is not, contrary to popular concepts, an instantaneous, one-time experience. Just as “growing up” physically is a life-long process, so, too, is “growing up” spiritually.

For each one of us, the experience of being “born again” varies. However, once we have made the initial decision to become a Christian, most of us probably go through what might be called the “fundamentalist stage” of spiritual development. At this early stage in our growth into Christ, we have to have the “fundamentals” or the “basics” spoon-fed to us. During this period, we tend to think of God and his plan of salvation in terms of abstract concepts. We crave the “mother’s milk” of the faith, the “five fundamentals” which lay its foundation: the inspiration of Scripture, the Virgin Birth, the vicarious atonement, the resurrection, and the second coming.

Yet, the more we become aware of the truth of God’s Word, the more we begin to realize just how far we have fallen from his favor. Ultimately, such a conceptual understanding of the faith only serves the same purpose as the Old Covenant law. It makes us acutely aware that we are sinners in need of a Redeemer who far transcends our attempts to pigeonhole him in a few “basic” tenets.

It is in coming to this point in our walk with Christ that we must make a very crucial decision either to go further or to fall back. If we choose to fall back, the path of rebellion, we will soon find ourselves either rejecting everything we have learned thus far or remaining trapped indefinitely in a state of spiritual adolescence, knowing the “fundamentals,” but being afraid to venture beyond our comfort zone.

If we choose to go further, however, we will, by yielding to the Spirit, be led into an understanding of the faith which is higher, deeper, and of greater substance than we could have ever imagined when we thought of it only in conceptual terms. Faith becomes more than a concept; it becomes a reality. Christianity becomes more than a religion; it becomes a Person, and that Person is the One who has been, all along the way, beckoning us, “Follow me.”

(JAG)

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light