[Last week, I wrote about how your last first day of school shouldn’t be the end your learning career. Now what about your spiritual learning career?]
Wouldn’t it be so weird if after you were born you stayed a baby? Like, what if you never got any bigger or learned to do anything like walk or talk or use the bathroom? Yikes. Don’t get me wrong—I love babies, but that’s a lot of diapers.
I’m not talking about some Benjamin Button-y thing (weirdest movie ever, though this reference in Walter Mitty was hilarious!).
God created our bodies to grow up. After you were born, you learned to talk, crawl, walk, run, and do all sorts of awesome things. But if you didn’t grow, if you stayed a baby, you would be kinda useless.* I mean, you might be cute and all, but what exactly would you do? I know multiple daily naps are very tempting at times, but that’s pretty boring. (Or worse yet, you might be in one of those super creepy commercials with the rollerskating babies. Seriously creepy.)
Babies grow up. Eventually they become healthy, mature, productive adults. That’s just how it works.
Jesus talked about being “born again” (read the conversation in John 3) which is where we get the term “born-again Christian.” Most recognize it as a label or a category of religious people, but there’s a bigger idea here. It’s an analogy, one with huge implications.
Birth is the beginning of life. You are born a baby to brand-new life. Being “born again” means to be born spiritually, after having already been born physically (hence the “again” part). So a “born-again Christian” is someone who has been born physically (i.e., they’re alive) and spiritually (i.e., they have accepted Jesus Christ as the only way to Heaven). They have new spiritual life in Christ.
Jesus doesn’t break into song and dance to explain life like a Disney movie (maybe that’s in the Message version). But His idea of being born and born again has more implications than just salvation (though that is of the utmost importance**).
If God intended for us to stay spiritual babies, the Bible’s New Testament wouldn’t be anything more than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The rest of the New Testament is for growing up spiritually, which is what naturally follows spiritual birth. God intends for us to grow up, and to be healthy, mature, and productive Christians.
Here’s the thing. Spiritual growth is hard. It’s not easy. It takes work. Just like when you were learning to do the basics—You were a wobbly toddler taking your first steps, or scared when learning to ride a bike, or terrified when you first jumped into the deep end of the pool. It is hard, but it’s what makes you the spiritually mature Christian God desires you to be.
So here’s where the learning comes in. Don’t stop learning spiritually. Grow up!
Yes, But How?
This is going to sound familiar, but I’m going to say it again anyway.
1. Read. Remember how I said the rest of the New Testament beyond the Gospels is actually all about growing up spiritually? Yep, Start there. Find Ephesians. The first half is about the gospel and new life in Christ; the second half gets practical. Dig deep. Keep learning.
2. Ask Questions. Find a pastor or someone who you know loves Jesus and start asking questions. They will be super excited to answer them. Find the expert. Be annoying.
3. Do stuff! Find a church. Start going regularly. Get involved. Pass out bulletins on Sunday morning, help out a teacher, or bake some cookies for the youth group. DO something!
4. Pray. Talk to God and ask Him to help you with this spiritual growth thing. He will answer, and it will be awesome.
*I am in no way implying those who have physical or mental challenges are useless. That is an entirely different conversation. Also, no offense to babies; I like you until you start walking. Then I will send you back to your parents.
** Spiritual maturity is not necessary for salvation, but precipitates from salvation. In other words, a Christian who dies as an immature or “baby” Christian still goes to Heaven, but has wasted time on earth for spiritual productivity.