Economic growth is vital to the well-being of a nation. So countries will make effort to plan, strategise and allocate resources to stimulate economic growth each and every year. The COVID19 pandemic has caused the world to enter into an economic recession not experienced since World War II. Countries have been sparing no effort to contain the virus in hope that they can mitigate the damage caused by the virus and stimulate economic progress again.
Spiritual growth is vital to our well-being as children of God. Unlike economic growth which serves only the present world, spiritual growth is of eternal value. Therefore we should pay even closer attention to it and spare no effort to overcome anything that may hinder spiritual growth and plunge us into a spiritual recession.
Here are 6 Cs that can hinder our spiritual growth:
Instead of pursuing Christ wholeheartedly, we may be distracted by worldly things. Are there other loves competing with our love for God? For example, pursuing wealth, status and worldly achievements? It is clear in the Scripture that friendship with the world is enmity towards God. We cannot serve two masters. We will love one but hate the other, serve one and despise the other.
Do we compartmentalise our lives into independent departments, segregating our spiritual life from our hobbies, interests, relationships, and others? Is God only found in the weekend services or when we attend bible study classes? Does He appear only where and when we want Him to? Do we ask Him to help us but not direct us in our choice of a relationship, hobby or career? Let us be reminded that if Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.
We live in an affluent society where we are blessed with the power to acquire. This consumerist behaviour can be brought into the Christian life. We come to church as a place to exercise our choice and to consume. What do I gain? What can I get? So we engage in church-hopping or church-surfing to look for professional worship experiences and motivational messages. When we feel dry, we blame others or the environment for not ministering to us enough. We must remember that God is a consuming fire. Instead of coming to Him to consume blessings, we are to be consumed by His holy presence.
We want growth that requires the least amount of effort. We look for the easy alternative. It is easier to meet online than to meet face-to-face. It is easier to attend live streaming services alone at home than connect with the community. It is easier to give money than commit one’s time and energy. When we gravitates towards convenience, we avoid the narrow road. Christ warns us however to enter by the narrow gate – for the wide gate and broad way lead us to destruction.
In our comfort zone, we are unwilling to traverse unfamiliar terrain. We want to play it safe. We want to only do what we think we can or like. We are not open to attempt new things. We will not venture. We are resistant to change. We do not want to be stretched and refuse to develop our capacity. Thus God is unable to lead us to greater heights to attempt great things for Him.
External peace and prosperity can dull our inner conscience. When we are doing well in this world, we assume we are doing fine spiritually. We think God’s earthly blessings are a sign of His favour and closeness with Him. When we become presumptuous, we begin to take things for granted. We become oblivious of the undercurrent of fleshliness carrying us away from God.
As we enter into the new year, may we be committed to pursuing spiritual growth and be intentional in planning, strategizing and allocating resources to help us grow in our devotion to Christ. Let us remember Paul’s encouragement in Phil 2:12-13 (NLT): “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
By Pastor Rick Toh