GROWING IN FAITH
Simon Parke writes: “It is a sobering thought that life does not automatically result in self-development. Many people imagine that, as they grow older, they develop but it is far from inevitable. The passage of time does not make for growth.
“Think of a seed. Like us a seed is genetically programmed to grow into a plant; but it will stay a seed for a million years unless conditions for growth are right. The seed is crammed full with potential, but it will stay a seed until placed in the soil and fed with food, air and light.
“And so it is with humans. We are self-developing organisms, but life does not develop us if it’s not the right sort of life. The human being is no more the finished article than the acorn. In order to become an oak tree, the acorn needs to be planted in something other than itself, and we are the same.”
It is also the same for those with a Christian faith. If we are to grow in faith, we need to be planted in the right soils with the right catalysts for growth.
Jesus never envisaged his followers going it alone, yet many today think that they can do just that. Belonging to a church community is important, if we are to grow closer to God.
Being part of Christian community provides the right soil for growth and development. It’s about much more than just tipping up on a Sunday to sing some songs, say some prayers, hear a Bible reading and a sermon, boring or otherwise. A living Christian community is a place where we learn to pray, to share our experience of God, to understand what a deep relationship with God looks like, to find a fellowship of mutual support and a place where can be truly accepted as we are. That doesn’t mean to say it’s a place where we can then stay as we are; the journey of faith requires a deep and continuing transformation.
Faith requires commitment. It requires a commitment to God, and a commitment to other Christians. And yet too many of us see God as an add-on to the rest of our lives, fitted in when we feel like it, rather than at the very heart of our being. Being a Christian is exciting and joyful, but it also needs to be embraced whole-heartedly. And that includes challenging those excuses we make not to gather each week with our fellow Christians. They need us, as much as we need them.