At Youth Group, we have some pretty … interesting … inside jokes. Some are elaborate. Some are “You just had to be there.” Some are pretty dumb. But one of my favorites involves my friend Madi and rocks.
I won’t get into all the details (it’s an inside joke) but for Christmas, Madi got me this:
It’s a rock some so pretty unique (and funny) instructions on it:
Instructions for Rock Growth
1. Water Everyday
2. Read 2 Peter 3:18 to it every night.
It’s one of my favorite Christmas gifts ever and sits on top of my desk where I still get a chuckle from it daily!
As we finished up our latest series on living out our faith, I came back to this rock and the simple title: Instructions for Rock Growth.
Now, what Madi was getting at and what I am going to get to are two different things, but with very similar steps. Madi’s gift (how to grow rocks) is a reminder of how we are called to grow ourselves. Turn with me to Matthew 7:24-27 where Jesus is finishing off the Sermon on the Mount with these words:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27, ESV)
The Christian is called to build their house on the foundation that is the rock because the rain and storms are coming. Don’t believe a Christian that tries to sell you that when you become a Christian, life is success, wealth, prosperity and 365 days a year of sunshine. Jesus gets done with his sermon and says, “the storms are coming.” [Also, Jesus says “follow me” and he goes to a cross and dies.]
Our foundation is in Jesus Christ himself. He was sent to become personal and real to you and for you. Our foundation is found in our relationship with Jesus and our faith and trust in Him. So, how does our foundation grow? How does our foundation expand and become more secure and stronger?
1. Water everyday. The important part here for step one is everyday. Martin Luther, that guy that people talk about sometimes, once said “To progress is always to begin again.” Real spiritual growth means a daily going back to the heart and foundation of your faith.
My friend Mike (who I call Stink) is a wrestler who just recently competed in the Regional Championships. I asked him how many times he has to practice a half-nelson a day to get better at it and he said “50” and although he can do it right, he doesn’t always do it 100% right 100% of the time.
Our faith/foundation/relationship with the Lord is similar. Christian growth doesn’t happen when we work hard at being better but by continually rediscovering the gospel. To progress in our faith means to believe again and again the gospel of God’s free, justifying grace. The measure of growth for your faith is not in how many times you go on a mission trip, not in how many O’s you put at the end of the check for offering, how many sandwiches you serve to the homeless, or how better you are getting at not sinningbut rather grasp and trust and belief in grace – God’s unconditionality of God’s love for you. It isn’t just learning the facts like how you memorized the Pledge of Allegiance when you were a kid, but it means “growing in our love for Christ because of what he has already earned and secured for us. 1”
How do I better understand and grasp the Gospel?
2. Read 2 Peter 3:18 to it every night. And not just 2 Peter 3:18 but all the scripture … and it doesn’t even have to be at night. If you want to grow in your faith, in your foundation and understanding of grace, of God’s unconditional love for you, I know no other fundamental way of grasping the gospel other than reading the scriptures for yourself. Get in the Word. There will be times when doing that is easier and other times when it is harder, but reading the scriptures for yourself, daily, with a plan and purpose, and reflecting on God’s word – letting in seep into your depths and grow inside of you – is highly important. I’m constantly worried for those people that don’t because of the tendency to doubt. I’m also worried for people that only go to scripture to feel good about themselves or go to God whenever there is something wrong.
Reading the scriptures with intent, reflecting on God’s Word, grasping the freedom in the Gospel, rejoicing in God’s unconditional love for you is of such importance.
3. Believe. Yes. Believe. Step 3 is simple. Have faith. Trust and believe that God is working in you. Believe and trust that Christianity isn’t “Do Better. Try Harder.” but a proclamation of “It is Finished.”
Get in the Word. Parents, get in the Word with your children. Model it for them. Because you and I need to progress and grow in our faith and be models for the youth and other Christians. And as that one guy once said, “To progress is always to begin again.”
1 – Tullian Tchividian “Rethinking Progess”