Why Christians Grow Slowly…

I’ve always been intrigued by a passage in Hebrews 6:1-3, especially the last three words, where it is written…

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

IF GOD PERMITS seems to mean/imply that an individual Christian maturity is bound up in the will and plan of God.  It seems that the depth to which a person is able to know God is limited… by God Himslef.  While thinking upon this I came upon some thoughts of value on this possibility.

In his Thoughts on Religious Experience, Archibald Alexander asked why we grow so slowly as Christians.  First, he rounded up the usual suspects: “The influence of worldly relatives and companions, embarking too deeply in business, devoting too much time to amusements, immoderate attachment to a worldly object,” etc.  But then he drilled down further and asked why these things get such a hold on us, “why Christians commonly are of so diminutive a stature and of such feeble strength in their religion.”  He proposed three reasons (Archibald Alexander, Thoughts on Religious Experience {Edinburgh, 1989}, pages 165-167):

“There is a defect in our belief in the freeness of divine grace.”  Even when the gospel is acknowledged in theory, he wrote, Christians depend on their moods and performances rather than on Christ alone.  Then, in our inevitable failure, we become discouraged, and worldliness creeps in with nothing to counteract it.  “The covenant of grace must be more clearly and repeatedly expounded in all its rich plentitude of mercy, and in all its absolute freeness.”

“Christians do not make their obedience to Christ comprehend every other object of pursuit.”  We compartmentalize our lives, and Jesus becomes a sidebar to the really compelling things of every day, like making money.  “The secular employments and pursuits of the pious should all be consecrated and become a part of their religion.”  That way, our work Monday through Friday is no distraction from Christ but more activity for Christ.

“We make general resolutions of improvement but neglect to extend our efforts to particulars.”  So, how is the sermon tomorrow going to change us tomorrow?  How specifically?  Rather than be satisfied that we haven’t sinned hugely on any given day and therefore we must be doing okay as Christians, we should be strategizing for specific, actionable, new steps of obedience on a daily basis.

These are excellent thoughts for growing and maturing in Christ.  For me I rest upon… “All who seek, find.  And to all who knock, the door will be opened.”  It seems that too many are resting, coasting, and cruising rather than seeking… knocking… and striving for Christ likeness.

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