Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Passionate Pursuit of Christ Produces Spiritual Growth

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Claim: Spiritual growth is the fruit of our passionate pursuit of Christ.

Note the following verses (emphasis mine).

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (Rom 7:4 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:22-24 ESV)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10 ESV)

In each case, fruit results from connection with Christ. This is not to say we sit idle while Jesus does all the work, for this is not the case. As Paul says in Philippians 2:12, we are to work out the salvation that God has put in. But, working out our salvation--producing fruit--cannot occur by our own effort alone:, for as Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”

Our motto for this past year has been, "Passionately pursuing spiritual growth in Christ." It is a very good motto and the programs flowing from that motto have encouraged many at TFB to begin bible reading and reflection they may not have practiced regularly before.

As we prepare for 2010, might I suggest we think about the true means to spiritual growth? You see, bible reading and reflection is good and necessary, but it is not enough. If we read the Bible and reflect on it regularly, but do so to "make ourselves holy" or "fulfill duty" then we have missed the point. The point of Bible reading and reflection is connecting with, trusting, and obeying Jesus.

In 2010, let us gather in small groups and large, thinking and praying together, figuring out how to pursue Christ, and deciding to trust and obey him with passion and persistence.

The fruit will, I am certain, astound us.

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