The Growing Christian
by Elizabeth Yi
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I remember very clearly the first time I ever heard the term "spiritual growth."
It was right after I was born again. July 2006. Our samonim (which means pastor's wife in Korean) and I were having a conversation. She was happy that I had become a born again Christian and was filled with so much thirst and hunger for God.
I was happy too. Not only happy, but even proud that I was a real Christian now. All my life I had danced the dance and played the game of being almost a Christian. But this time was different. This time there was a clear and evident transformation.
And then I heard samonim say something along these words,
"Elizabeth, now that you are a Christian, it is very important for you to grow spiritually. Christian life is about learning and growing."
Those words, "grow spiritually", felt like a bucket of cold water over my head.
I didn't like it all. I was even offended. There I was, thinking I was one of the greatest Christians of my time, because I had finally come to know God in a very special way. I believed I was special. I didn't need growth. Samonim didn't understand my relationship with God.
I have no words to explain what on earth I was thinking. I'm ashamed of it now.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit helped me to be more humble. And from there my spiritual growth starts.
My pastor and samonim encouraged me to read the bible, join a bible study and participate in various church activities.
My thirst and hunger for God led me to the bible. For the first time, the bible made sense to me and I absolutely loved it. I would read the bible at home and at work, everyday. I cried over specific verses; my spirit was deeply moved.
I loved our prayer meetings. I loved praying in the dark, finding God and hearing Him talk to me softly. And sometimes I cried uncontrollably. Many tears of remorse and guilt, probably from a thankful and repentant heart. My pastor and samonim baptized me with the Holy Spirit and I was praying in tongues. I heard God tell me at that time I was a house of prayer.
I loved God and my life was perfect. The world was awesome. Everything was good.
This is what my samonim called the born again honeymoon stage. When we first meet Jesus and everything is just pure awesomeness.
But the honeymoon stage ends at some point.
Then things start to get back to "normal." Excitement dies down. Once the honeymoon was over, I was back to living a real life filled with real problems.
My life didn't suddenly or magically change once I became a born again Christian. I had issues and many problems. And those problems didn't disappear. Apart from all the wrong patterns and way of thinking, I also struggled with low self esteem, insecurities, lots of anger and depression. By the time I became a born again Christian, I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and drank beer or wine almost everyday. The activity I loved the most was going to bars with friends and drinking and smoking the night away. I drank to get drunk. I loved the feeling of being buzzed. Alcohol made me cheerful and forget about all my pain and sorrows.
It took me a long time to pull myself out of that vortex. Once you're there long enough, you start believing such dysfunction is actually normal. The compulsive drinking and smoking were symptoms of a much more serious problem. It was extremely difficult to change my lifestyle and it took a lot of prayer, faith, learning the word as well as a very loving and encouraging husband.
The point is, people don't magically change once they are born again. There is a spiritual transformation that takes place. I am a new creation. My spirit is made alive in Christ. I have been brought from the dead to life. Words can't describe the magnitude and power of this transformation.
But it appears to me that God changes our lives little by little, piece by piece. At least this is how I've experienced it.
Wow. Thinking about it, God has taught me so many things about so many things. Spiritual growth, personal growth, marriage, parenting, relationship, friendship, church, the bible, values, work ethics, etc. And if I had to break down each of these areas into more specific topics, my list would be very long.
As a born again Christian, I'm re-learning everything about life and the world, according to God and His truth, which is actually the only truth there is. Virtually everything I learned prior to knowing God was a lie, wrong and just plain foolishness. And my hope is that I'll keep on learning from God up to the day I pass on from this world.
Because God calls me to grow and mature in Christ. He calls me to be the Growing Christian.
I was not created to be stagnant because I will rot, just like stagnant water rots.
God wants me to keep learning, changing and maturing.
I must say that growing is not steady, easy or straightforward.
Sometimes I don't feel like I'm growing at all. Or I take the wrong road and get lost. And many a times I feel just like the Israelites, the ones who wandered around the desert for forty years, never reaching the promised land.
There is confusion, brokenness and pain along the way.
But not too worry because God is faithful: "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
This blog was born out of my love for God and a sincere desire to do something to serve Him. And also a passion to write.
I want people to see my weaknesses, my imperfections, my inconsistencies, my mistakes and my foolishness. Because then people might see a God who strengthens, teaches and corrects, rescues and helps. They might see a life transformed. And they might see a Growing Christian.
Through my weaknesses, imperfections, inconsistencies, mistakes and foolishness, people might also see an awesome, living God at work. Faithful through all seasons. Our King of kings and Lord of lords. Perfect in every way. Abounding in loving, patience and kindness. The same yesterday, today and forever more.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christís power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Yes, weak indeed I am. But not to worry because God's power is made perfect in my weakness. All glory belongs to Him alone. All.
Hosanna in the highest!!! Hallelujah!!!
And to wrap things up, here are some bible verses that talk about spiritual growth.
Christians, may we all grow together in Jesus Christ!
"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:14-16
"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." 1 Peter 2:3
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light." Colossians 1:9-12
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." 2 Peter 3:18
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christóto the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1:9
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