Spiritual Growth and Development
Until Christ is formed in you – Galatians 4:19
It is amazing how you can pray for years for something, and then all of a sudden, God reveals that you’ve been praying inaccurately. One such prayer has been for the people I preach for, regardless of where I’m preaching. I adapted a prayer from a Shawn MacDonald song called “Open Me.” The prayer is simple; “Open up our eyes so we can see, our ears so we can hear, our minds so we can know and understand, and our hearts that we may fall in love with You.”
I say this prayer because I know that if a Christian has spiritual eyes, ears, minds, and hearts, they are disciples. They are followers of Christ no longer in need of the “middle-man” of what we call church today. I’m not saying church is unnecessary, but I am saying the Bible and prayer should be your primary source of spiritual nourishment, not church and preachers. Therefore, I pray for these things. Unfortunately, I recently realized I’ve been asking for spiritual eyes, ears, minds and hearts to be opened when they don’t even exist. Let me explain.
Paul compares the growth of Christ in you spiritually to that of a physical child being formed in the womb. If a child can stay cut off from the world for a bare minimum of 22 weeks (the survival record is 21 weeks, 5 days of gestation), remain attached to his or her mother in the womb, he or she will enter this world with a shot at survival.
In America, we have preached that saying a prayer produces a “born again” experience. At best, asking Christ into your heart and life is the beginning of spiritual gestation. The question is: will the seed planted inside of you develop enough to survive out in the world?
I remember being saved and thinking I had to immediately live this stuff out. I was constantly failing and wondered if living the Christian life was even possible. I said “the prayer” so many times hoping one would “take” and I would actually change. I constantly wondered where my breakdown was occurring.
Once again, for years I had been saying the wrong prayer. I had been praying that God would wave His magic wand, sprinkle some Holy Spirit dust on me, and I would change. What I needed was to develop in the first place. Christ needed to be formed in me. Five years after initially asking Christ to come into my life, I finally began to read the Bible for myself. I didn’t focus on changing my outward behavior; I just cut myself off from the world, and latched onto Him. Fifteen months later I don’t know how He did it, I don’t even know when He did it, but I was brand new. I looked at the world completely differently . . . I had spiritual eyes. The words of God were so sweet . . . I had spiritual ears. I understood things from the Bible and knew exactly what I needed to do . . . I had a spiritual mind. Most of all, and most importantly, I had a heart that wanted to serve Him, and wanted to dig into His Word . . . I loved Him. He was no longer a have to, but a get to.
Do you have spiritual eyes, ears, minds, and hearts? Do you see Him in the simplest of things? If your heart is pure, you will (Matthew 5:8). Does He speak to you? And I mean say something other than, “I want you to be happy, so go ahead and sin.” Do you know Him? I don’t mean know about Him, I mean do you know Him? Do you love Him? I mean more than anything else or anyone else on this planet, do you love Him?
I didn’t know it was even possible until I spent 15 months with Him and His Word. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that was where my vital spiritual organs developed. I wasn’t ready those first five years to enter the world and live for Him because I was a preemie. The only thing I needed to do was the one thing I wasn’t doing, connecting myself to my life giving, life-producing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.