Colossians 1:9–10; Hebrews 6:1–3
If you are standing in front of a large directory map at a mall, you must locate two things for the directory to be helpful: the “You Are Here” indicator and the store you’d like to visit. This is true for our spiritual journeys as well. We must know where we are (today’s focus) and where we are going (tomorrow’s focus). There are any number of tools that can help locate you on the discipleship map. One church uses a line from -10 to 10, where -10 is actively killing Christians, 0 is accepting Jesus, and 10 is like Mother Teresa on steroids. Some churches use categories such as Exploring Christ, Growing in Christ, Close to Christ, and Christ-Centered.
The accompanying question to “Where are you?” is “Why are you there?” If you are passing through a point or category as a normal part of your spiritual formation, that’s great! But if you are stuck there or have returned there, not so great. Imagine you are on a trip from one side of the United States to the other. If you find yourself in St. Louis because it’s a point on the way, then there is no problem. If you find yourself in St. Louis for the third time on your journey, it’s a problem. If floodwaters cover the Mississippi River bridge, that’s an obstacle, but if you’ve run out of gas, that’s a process problem. Sometimes we get stuck in our spiritual journeys due to obstacles. (We will spend much of our time in the coming weeks looking at three very common obstacles.) But sometimes we get stuck due to process problems. I will share three of those with you today.
First, the spiritual activities that catalyze our movement from one category to the next change as we grow.
Second, our growth is typically rapid early in the journey and heavily reliant on church programs. We grow fast early on by showing up and participating in things others have initiated. However, along the way our growth becomes slower and the responsibility shifts to ours. We often remember the early growth, romanticize the activities associated with it, and never want to move on to new activities. We begin to complain that church services, small groups, and leadership just aren’t what they used to be. In reality, the issue is that we have grown and what we need to continue forward has changed. Our refusal to move from comfortable but ineffective practices and activities has us stuck. Are we willing to leave behind our boats and nets in order to follow Jesus further on the journey?
Third, the spiritual journey is a communal journey. While we need times of solitude along the way, the journey demands spiritual friends, mentors, and mentees to help us find our way forward. If we want to do this journey alone, we’re precisely who God wants to place in a community.
Ask God to show you any spiritual activity or practice in which you are engaged that is no longer catalyzing your growth. Also ask him to show you a catalytic one that might replace it. Share your thoughts with your bandmates.