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Archive for Saturday, July 8, 2006

Faith Forum: What do people mean when they talk about ‘growing their faith’?

July 8, 2006

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Living a lifestyle pleasing to God

Marc Day, associate pastor at Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:

Followers of Jesus Christ believe that growing one's faith is intimately connected with obedience to the teachings of Christ. Jesus poses a penetrating question in Luke 6:46 when he asks, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" If people are growing their faith, then they are growing in a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. They are becoming more and more obedient to God's call to live in Christ-likeness.

Of course, it is impossible for a person to grow something that he or she does not understand or apply to everyday life. There are distinctions between 1) acquiring knowledge, 2) understanding the author's intent, 3) intellectual agreement, 4) heartfelt trust (faith) and 5) life application of that knowledge. Knowledge, understanding and agreement do not necessarily translate into heartfelt trust, and heartfelt trust does not necessarily translate into spiritual growth. It is only when knowledge is applied to daily living that a person experiences the kind of real spiritual growth all human beings innately desire. Knowledge without application is simply academic achievement.

Spiritual growth is primarily an inside-out process. Just as a well-constructed home must first be built on a rock-solid foundation, a well-constructed faith must rest upon a rock-solid foundation. (Luke 6:47-49) Christ-followers believe that Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation when seriously considering the matter of one's eternal destiny. Once the foundation is in place, God forms a "partnership" wherein he graciously causes growth while the individual is charged to "make every effort" to nurture and develop that growth through worship, prayer, obedience, Bible study and fellowship (see 2 Peter 1:3-11).

- Send e-mail to Marc Day at m.d@1inchrist.org.

Taking steps to get closer to the Lord

The Rev. Ira DeSpain, campus minister, Baker University:

"Growing your faith" is another way to say "spiritual journey." Like any journey, there is a spiritual starting point and destination. Spiritually speaking, the destination is God, and growing your faith means taking the steps necessary to get closer to God.

When youths get a driver's license at age 16, they are normally not as good at driving as they will be at age 25, provided they use those 10 years to practice the driving techniques learned in driver's education.

When two people commit to each other in marriage, they are not as good at being married as they will be 10 years later, provided they practice good communication skills and remain committed to the relationship. The destination is deeper mutual love.

When someone begins a life of faith, it is all very new and exciting, like the day you get your driver's license or the day you fall in love. However, the beginning stages are often shallow stages, untested by the storms of life that rage. Growing your faith means using the tools available - prayer, Bible study, association with other people who also are growing their faith, worship experiences - to explore the deeper, more personal and more significant contributions that faith can make to your life.

Here's an example: When someone first becomes a Christian, the words of the Lord's Prayer can seem exciting and inspiring. In time, if your faith isn't growing and seeking deeper levels of understanding, saying that prayer can become mechanical, and it can lose some of that initial excitement. It doesn't need to. If someone is growing in their faith, repeating this powerful prayer can give new spiritual insight and depth to living in the faith.

- Send e-mail to Ira DeSpain at ira.despain@bakeru.edu.

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