Why aren’t Christians growing? More specifically, why do Christians become stagnant in Christ-like growth?
What Occurs in Salvation?
If we think about some of what occurs in salvation, this question becomes even more urgent. When we come to Christ, we are:
- Delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ, releasing us from bondage to sin and Satan (Col. 1:13; Rom. 6:5-7).
- Redeemed from God’s wrath and forgiven our sin, restoring our relationship with God (Col. 1:14).
- Given the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:9-11).
- Made a new Creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
- Given a new desire for the things of God (Rom. 7:22).
If these things, and more, occur in salvation, how can we be stagnant in Christ-like growth?
How is it Possible to be Stagnant in Christ-like Growth?
Paul addresses this issue with the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3, when he says starting in verse 1,
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh (1 Cor. 3:1-3a).
The reason they had not grown. The reason Paul wasn’t able to feed them solid food, even after some time, was due to their source of wisdom.
Prior to penning the opening verses of chapter 3, Paul spends the better part of two chapters expounding the difference between the world’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. Paul ends chapter 2, by telling us the natural person is not able to understand the wisdom of God; therefore, they believe it is foolish. On the other hand, Paul tells us, the wisdom of God is understandable to the Christian, and it is prized instead of rejected.
Why are Christians able to understand God’s wisdom, when the world can’t? Christians are able to understand and prize the wisdom of God because they have the mind of Christ. They possess His mindset, which leads them to see God not as a foolish old man in the sky, but as a wise Father who is to be worshipped, sought, led and governed by.
The Ability Isn’t Used
But while the Corinthians have the ability to understand the wisdom of God, they are not seeking it, nor are they living by it. That is the reason they aren’t growing. They aren’t looking to God for wisdom, even though they are able; they are, instead, looking at the world, allowing its wisdom to direct and guide them.
We Do the Same
The Corinthians aren’t the only ones guilty of leaving their God-given ability on the table. We do the same. I believe that is because we often forget the pervasive nature of the world’s wisdom. We forget that the world’s wisdom is there confronting and influencing us every time we turn on the radio, television, and computer. It is there when we open the newspaper and magazine. It is there wherever we go. Since the world’s wisdom is all around us, influencing us in ways we may not readily be aware, we naively believe that that’s just how things are supposed to be done.
We Must Fight With a Christian Worldview
We, however, must fight the tendency to go along with the status quo of society, thinking that is the way we must do things. We must instead turn to God’s Word, to His wisdom, as often as we can, in order to develop a distinctly Christian worldview. One that allows us to judge the world’s advice, thoughts, and judgments with Scripture. One that causes us to look to God’s Word for advice, instead of the latest New York Times best seller. One that causes us to seek Christian counsel, instead of asking our non-Christian co-worker what therapist, pill, or self-help guru pulled them through their latest crisis. If we do that – if we turn to God’s Word and use our God-given ability to discern and understand His wisdom, we would see more Christ-like growth in our lives.
So why do Christians remain stagnant in their growth in Christ-likeness, in their ability to understand the deep things of God’s Word? Because we consistently seek and live by the world’s wisdom, rather than God’s wisdom.
Question for Reflection
- Whose wisdom do you often turn to in times of need?