It seems to be written into nature that when something stops growing it begins to die. But can it also be true of our Christian faith? How do we ensure that years and decades from now we are still strong in faith, still growing, still learning?
Jesus calls us to follow him 1. There’s a journey, there’s direction and there’s movement. Faith is active: we walk by the spirit 2, straining forward, pressing on towards the goal 3. To be unengaged or distracted does not leave us in a neutral zone — we are either walking towards Jesus or we are drifting away, carried by the currents of this world, the enemy and our own earthly desires 4.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13
One of the marks of true faith is that we press on until the very end. Given its importance, how do we make sure that, as Christians, we never stop growing, never stop enduring? Is it all down to us, or is our church family and our heavenly Father involved as well?
We caught up with several members at Kings to see how continual growth in their lives has been worked out on a practical level.
I was a bit ‘in and out’ with my faith until about 2000. Before that I couldn’t really say I was a Christian; I just grew up amongst Christian people. But it was about that time that I just got into university, and had a lot going on. At that time you’re really getting your identity together — what you are really about. I realised that I was living the sort of life that could only end in destruction! So I sat down and thought “this is not the path for me, I need to get serious”.
“it shocked me to reality, let me put it that way.”
Q: So you’ve been a Christian since 2000. What would you say has caused you to grow in your faith between then and now?
I’ve had some ups and downs, and I think the biggest one was when I lost my mum in 2009. It was a big shock and very unexpected. I guess everyone would say this, but my mum was that very, very special person to me. Even when I wasn’t such a very good boy, we could always rub minds and I would always listen to her. Her death really affected me and I was like “God, you shouldn’t have let this happen”. At that point in time my faith was rock bottom.
Q: So did this ultimately spark growth in your faith?
Yeah, it shocked me to reality, let me put it that way. For about two years I didn’t know what I was. I had lost my identity at that point. I didn’t stop believing, I still knew God, but I was really upset. I wasn’t showing forth the fruit. But then I was having this conversation with my older brother who I respect so much. We were chatting about how much we missed her. I told him I didn’t know what I was about anymore, and just living every day as it came.
He said “let me put it this way. God’s made some promises about life on earth, but his main promise is about eternity. And mum hasn’t lost that. But if you’re not careful, you will lose that.” And that spurred me on.
I went home that day and prayed and asked God for forgiveness. I started living again. And there was one prayer: I asked God “never let me get to a point where I am filled. Let me always be hungry for you”. Ever since then, that’s what I’ve been all about. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that a deeper relationship with God is what I pray for every day. With God it’s never ending, you can’t get to the bottom of that relationship. You can just go deeper and deeper and deeper.
“Living on earth makes you think you can actually live without God. But you realise it’s just a mirage, a trick of the enemy”
Q: What do you think the key is to finishing well?
That’s a tricky one! There’s no way you can finish well without growing. Living on earth makes you think you can actually live without God. But you realise it’s just a mirage, a trick of the enemy. You have to feed on God every day.
M: On my first Newday (aged 12) I responded to the gospel with my friends and gave my life to Jesus. But when I got back from Newday, nothing really changed. We got into a cycle: you meet Jesus for one week and it’s amazing; but then you come back and nothing’s changed. And that went on for a few years until last Newday, 2016, where we did a Holy Spirit night, where you invite the Holy Spirit into your life. I was filled with so much joy and love. I instantly realised what this was all about and kept seeking God after this happened. So that changed my life.
B: A very similar story to Maddie’s. When I was 12 I gave my life to God at Newday, but like Maddie, it didn’t really change anything. At the next Newday I re-gave my life, and I think that’s when my faith started to take effect. It was a gradual process of it becoming more real. I began to share my faith with my friends and have discussions, debates, and grow in my faith.
Q: What have been the most important and significant things to helping you grow as a Christian?
M: I would definitely say joining the ID team and being a leader. Getting involved and seeing what’s going on. You talk to the kids about Jesus and I love the opportunity to share the gospel. I also loved (y)Hunger where I got to do a talk on jealousy; and doing other talks at ID have helped me want to read my Bible more.
“What has helped you grow? A: Getting involved and seeing what’s going on … I love the opportunity to share the gospel.”
B: I would say the ongoing support from the church has been a vital step in me being who I am today. We were always a bit of a pain at ID. We always caused trouble and wreaked havoc. But they never gave up, and our current leader Anne has always been there for us and a tremendous help spiritually.
“We were always a bit of a pain at ID. We always caused trouble and wreaked havoc. But they never gave up”
Having come from a Christian background, certainly the information of Christianity was with me since childhood: who Christ was, the details of God, worship, and those kinds of things. But I can remember the actual time of making a decision — I must have been in my twenties. Then I knew that I knew that I was a born again Christian.
Q: Having spent fifty to sixty years following Jesus, what has helped you the most to continually grow as a Christian?
The whole concept of reading the Word of God and communication with him through prayer. It seems to be rather a pat answer, but that’s the truth. It’s reading the word and talking to God. Those two things are the keys to my life really.
My faith has always been strong because I’ve had the ability of disciplining myself to get up early – 6am every morning – for years and years. Again, I simply enjoy spending time with God, and very often I will keep a note of what God is saying to me. So that’s been the key to having a very stable relationship.
Q: What have been your greatest struggles?
I think the greatest struggle is being independent. Thinking that you can do things by yourself when in reality you can’t. And God has to bring you to a point where he shows you that you can’t, where he says “you’re utterly dependent on me”. It’s a hard lesson to learn because you keep repeating it!
“When Christ is everything to you, he is the answer to everything. But it’s allowing him to be that.”
Q: If you could talk to yourself back in your twenties, what’s the biggest life lesson you would teach yourself?
I think I would have to go back to the whole thing of my dependence on him. At the end of the day the essence of the Christian life is looking to Jesus because he is your everything. When Christ is everything to you, he is the answer to everything. But it’s allowing him to be that. He is the author, the perfector of your faith. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
If you have questions or comments related to this article, Life Groups are a great place to discuss the Bible and share life together.