This article is Part 1 in a 2-part series on Spiritual Development Stages. In Part 2, I will discuss Spiritual Development Stages in young men and fathers.
Sometimes I wonder if the notion of “stages” of spiritual development is actually a biblical idea or a modern idea. We ‘moderns’ have a certain penchant for such paradigms. We look for how-to’s, lists, 5 tips on this or that, 4 ways to do this or that. Interesting that the Bible really doesn’t provide much in those types of formats.That sort of mindset about Christianity goes back to the intrusion into Christian thought of Greek philosophy, and with it a dualism – that is, a separation of what you are embracing from the ’embracer.’ The notion that you can examine truth from a distance much like a lab researcher examining a test tube, and then decide whether you agree or not. This view of the world, and of theology, became the basis of western consciousness beginning with Descartes and has flourished into what we call ‘modernism.’
However, the Bible is quite unlike that. There is no dualism, no examining truth from an ‘objective’ distance. Reading the Bible is reading a message from an Author who is telling you something that directly affects you. Reading the Bible is a personal encounter – it is direct engagement, not from a distance.
Family, Not Stages
If there are stages at all, it is in the Bible in a family paradigm – it does mention children, young men, and fathers:
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” – 1 John 2:12-14
ChildrenSo… if you are a new Christian, you probably know it and the question becomes, “What are some tips to grow?” Love, relish, imbibe the Word of God. A good place to start is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6:20ff). Jesus says that one who builds his life on these ways, that is, both hears them and does them, is like a man who is wise in building on a solid foundation. The Sermon on the Mount is foundational.
Another tip at the beginning: Count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ and make up your mind in response to Luke 14:26-35. In many Bibles, the words of Christ are in red. These become central in understanding the One you are following.
Being part of the Body of Christ in a local church is a good place to grow because the Body builds itself (Eph. 2:19-22; 4:11-16; Col. 2:19; 1 Cor. 12:12-27), and you will naturally benefit from its growth. Fellowship is not an ‘extra,’ for any believer. It is central to what you are growing into – the new person God is nurturing in you.
It is also hopeful that you will encounter in the Body of Christ those who have been at this for a while (‘young men’ and ‘fathers’) who can help, guide, encourage, and teach you. You will be surprised how eager mature disciples are to help you – it’s part of who they are developing into.
Notice it says that ‘you know the Father.’ Often new believers find that there are so many signs of God’s fatherly care at this time that everything is blessed, little miracles happening here and there, so that some refer to this as a ‘honeymoon period’ in your walk with God. But all babies are eventually weaned. It is very helpful to put your roots down deep, drive your stake in hard, remember all the graciousness God has shown you in this time so that as you are being “weaned” away from the easy times, you will recognize God’s purpose in making you assured, stalwart in faith, not dependent on outward providence to be assured that He is with you, utterly loyal, and solid:
“For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end ….” – Hebrews 3:14
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end ….” – Hebrews 6:11
If you feel you are a child in the things of Christ and have questions about issues, are wondering what’s next, or would just like some coaching, feel free to call our office for an initial visit.
“Sisters,” courtesy of Jamie Taylor, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Laughter is the best medicine,” courtesy of Ben White, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Follow the Map,” courtesy of Annie Spratt, unsplash.com, Public Domain License