What I Wished I Knew About Christian Growth
So you prayed the Lord's Prayer...now what?
Sometimes we don't fully understand the journey of a believer until we are in the middle of it, which can be discouraging. Although the moment we put our faith in God we are justified, but we still being sanctified. Being sanctified is a messy and painful process which, at times, simply makes little sense! And yet, God still uses it for good! He still loves and forgives us when we backslide. How?! Why?!
After this blog post, I hope you will gain better understanding about Christian Growth (sanctification) and find encouragement in order to be a magnificent vessel for God's plan/will.
The progress for a Christian is not a linear line. If I were to outline my own progress, it would look like a Doctor's bad handwriting!
Progress is a process.
Christians, new or mature in the faith, are all constantly being sanctified or made to look like God. Although our soul is saved, our mind and body are still trying to catch up to the change that took place. (Like the expression goes, bad habits die hard!) We know that we have gained a new spirit because we will have a shift in perspective and desires. A child of God will no longer be satisfied by the things of the world and instead hunger for God. We desire to be in right standing in the Lord, even when we aren't always in His perfect will.
The guilt and high expectation we put on ourselves melt away when we realized God isn't asking for perfection, He is asking to give Him ALL of us.
We will fail. Repeatedly. We may achieve new grounds only to lose it the next moment! But we can find comfort in the Bible. Even the apostles, those who claimed to love Jesus, ended up running away and denying Him. Clearly, we aren't alone in our struggles. Although the apostle's faith wasn't constantly overflowing, it didn't mean they weren't genuine believers because they still had that special connection with God. That special connection is in ALL believers and it comes from our identity in Christ as His children.
God doesn't promise us a life without pain. What He has promised us is that He will never leave us or forsake us. This might be a hard concept to understand, especially if you are currently suffering. Personally, I know that my hardships with mental health can help others who are suffering too. There is nothing that God couldn't turn around for good. You can read more about God using suffering for good in this other article of mine called, How to Have a Bad Day (As a Christian).
When catastrophes hit, the house with a stable foundation will remain standing. And even if knocked over, don't fear, the greatest carpenter ever, Jesus Christ, will be there to rebuild from the ashes.
If we believed God would lash out at us whenever we did wrong, messing up as a Christian would seem like the end of the world! We can feel like we have fallen out of grace when it is simply not true! The first step to a born-again Christian is to know God. Like in any relationship, you won't know the person fully until you have spent time with them. Then you know how they are and therefore can predict/understand how they will act in the future. If a newborn Christian reads how faithful God was when the Israelites weren't, they would see a God's relentless love for them too.
We have to train ourselves to trust God. Our human brains are wired for self-perseverance, not for growth or journeying to unexplored territory. This is why the Bible tells us to renew our minds daily.
God has not left you to work out your sanctification alone. To all believers, God has given us the Holy Spirit, the bible, and the Church (fellowship with other believers) to know and walk with Him.
I never known of any believer who didn't "drop the ball" so to speak with God. Failures are opportunities for growth in Christ. Of course, sin is still at odds with us believers and we give in, sometimes repeatedly. Tougher opponents require heavier ammunition. Cling to God and seek professional help as needed. And when Satan reminds you of your failures, you remind him of your God!
Sometimes we become jaded of the serious nature of sin. If we avoid God, we will avoid His correction. When we get closer to God, He will reveal it. Sometimes our situation has to humble us before we make that correction.
If our mindset and knowledge aren't grounded in biblical truths, we won't know how to handle the obstacles meant to form us into the image of Christ. People naturally walk by the guidance of their minds and hearts. If both we have God for their source, we are better abled to walk the straight and narrow.
God, I praise you for your relentless love that even when I fall short, black slide, or am not in your will, you still offer your love, forgiveness and guidance. I pray that my readers too will experience the joy and peace of knowing you. In Jesus's name I pray, amen!