With time, I have come to learn that spiritual growth is intentional. It never happens by accident. It does not have something like an evolution theory to elucidate it. I can’t sit in this chair then shout ‘open sesame’ and expect abracadabra spiritual growth. I will merely become a spiritually lame duck. Playing ducks and drakes with salvation should never be our absorption. Being born again should never be a flavour of the month.
I can’t expect God to do everything for me. It doesn’t work that way. I will be selling snake oil if tell you that.
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
1 Cor. 3:9 (KJV).
I have also learnt that spiritual maturity is demonstrated not exclusively in gifts of the Holy Spirit but in the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. For what the gifts produce amount to hot air if the Fruit is absent (1 Cor. 13). The Holy Spirit works in us as we accompany Jesus daily, to help us produce the Fruit. Fruits grow but gifts are bestowed freely.
Therefore when we sit on our laurels and eschew bible study, prayer and fasting, assembly of brethren, praise and thanksgiving, then we are candidates for lukewarm Christianity. We are a Jekyll and Hyde (Remember Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). In point of fact, this is what gives birth to Nominal Christianity, or Cultural Christianity. You hear people say 80% of Kenyans are Christians, and when you start to look around you observe no sign of the 80%. This is a sorry reality. However, I do not believe that our goose is cooked. True, the enemy will always go for a chink in our armour, but the fact that I am not dead, and the rapture has not taken place, mean I still have a chance to grow in grace and put the kibosh on infantilism. Before He appears in the clouds, they (clouds) still have a silver lining.
This takes me back to the keyword at the beginning of my discourse – intentionality. It means consciously shaking up the routine, dropping passivity in favour of activity and persisting in this. I don’t mean we can be as clean as a whistle but we can clean up our act. Hey, I don’t want to sound as if I am preaching ‘works’ and not ‘grace’, something that runs counter to the orthodoxy. I believe that a truly born again Christian, the one who has responded to the conviction of the Holy Ghost and not emotional appeals of self and herd mentality, is capable of growing to maturity. In this I mean, he or she will find the works of the flesh appalling and not appealing. Such people have the courage of their convictions, and they live by them till cows come home, or rather till they shuffle off this mortal coil.
Intentional Christianity is tasting blood; it whets your appetite for more of Him. It makes us blow away the cobweb and we can do that with zeal and zest. With this in mind, there is no time we will ever be at cross purposes; for we will bear our cross and make those seeing us cross the floor. It is only intentional Christianity that gives birth to lifestyle evangelism. Lifestyle evangelism is a product of matching to the beat of the Holy Spirit.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5
So what do we do? For me, I have purposed to be intentional. Give the Kingdom business first priority. Set time aside every day for a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. The days are evil and things are moving fast but we can find time for Kingdom transactions, that is if we value it.
Decide to study the Bible every day, Pray every day, fast occasionally, praise and worship, meet with brethren and have an accountability partner and if possible, a mentor. It helps to have someone to share with your travels, travails and triumphs. It makes sense to have someone who has gone ahead of you; who can hold your hand when you are down, cheer you when you wake up and is happy when you make a milestone. Remember more is given to those who have. Kith and kin, what do you think? Nearest and dearest, what do you hold onto?