A couple of weeks ago I was looking over some old New Year’s sermons and I came across one I preached in 2003. At that time, I had been pastor for only a few weeks and I was trying to set a vision for what the church could do in the following months and years as we began to serve the Lord together in this new relationship.
To make a point in the sermon, I mentioned all of the babies and toddlers in the congregation, and they were numerous. Do you know who they were? Among them were Benjamin and Samuel Petro, Tate Jarrell, and Alexander Brown. My point was about growth. We expect that little children will grow and if they don’t, we would anxiously take them to the doctor to find out what is wrong. Today, you can see there was no need for concern about these children as we have watched them grow and we are blessed to see them taking part in one of our most cherished ministries which is the Children’s Choir.
The comparison to be made was to measure spiritual growth in the same way. Now that thirteen years have passed since 2003, what is the state of our spiritual growth? Although the church has seen many come and go over the years, some of you were here for that first New Year’s sermon. I wonder have you grown in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Even if you were not here, how would you assess your growth rate since you became a Christian?
If we want to add a little anthropomorphism to the discussion (you did learn that word, didn’t you?), we would say the Lord must have some concern for His children that have never grown. What is the reason for their stunted spiritual growth? With the physical person, it could be the quality of the food provided. There are many children across the world that do not have the nourishing food they need. The food may be scarce or of poor quality. Is this the case with the spiritual child?
Interestingly enough, Paul said the scriptures are sufficient to furnish us unto all good works. Peter said the word nourishes spiritually new born babes so they may grow thereby. Is the problem lack of spiritual food? I hardly think so. Bibles are readily available—if you don’t have one, we are happy to give you one. The problem must be getting to the table to eat the food because there is no shortage of quantity. So perhaps we have found a key to stunted spiritual growth. The table is prepared; there is a feast in the word of God; but God’s people do not care to partake.
Another issue may be poor quality preaching. This one falls on me. Have I lacked in the preparation, and am I not providing the food in a way to make it desirable and digestible? Actually, this accusation has been made. However, those that make it do nothing to find better food. They make no personal application to make it better. I think it must be more of a problem with the appetite. Some just prefer candy and sweets rather than meat and potatoes.
It is much easier to blame lack of spiritual growth on others than it is to own the problem ourselves. Some have legitimate complaints because they did not have solid preaching in churches they attended. They are late bloomers because it took time to find the right table. Hopefully, Berean is the right table. With some personal ownership of the growth process, you can become spiritually healthy. So, we encourage you to dig in in 2016 and feast on the word of God. We promise to give you more of what you need, not necessarily more of what you want.
Pastor V. Mark Smith