- Baptist Press - https://www.baptistpress.com -

FIRST-PERSON: Christmas is over, now what?

MELISSA, Texas (BP)–The presents are unwrapped, the lights have been put away, the weather is cold, and Easter is a long way off. We have just finished celebrating the greatest season of the year, Christmas, the birth of God’s Son. Holly and mistletoe, peace on earth, goodwill toward men; Christmas is over, now what?

During the Christmas season, we have celebrated God coming to earth in the form of a man. We know how Jesus came… as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. We know to whom Jesus came … to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds. The question is … Why did He come?

Jesus Himself explained in John 10:10 that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus came to that manger on your mantle that we might have abundant life, both now and in eternity. I believe the abundant life equals a spiritually growing life.

Christmas was designed by God to be the starting point for our abundant Christian life, the beginning of our spiritual growth. Jesus came that we might know God, and once we know God, He has called us to grow. Spiritual maturity is not a special privilege given to the few most pious among us. Instead, spiritual growth is the process designed by God for each of His children. In II Pet. 3:18, we read, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!”

[1]

Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments, said, “An organization dries up if you don’t challenge it with growth.” Churches dry up if they do not grow. Our spiritual life grows stagnant if we are not growing in our faith. In the Christian life, we never arrive. There is always more to learn, more to experience as we study God’s Word and minister to God’s people. We should constantly strive to be more like Christ.

As we move along our spiritual journey, we grow with one goal in mind: To be conformed to the image of Christ. Spiritual growth has as its purpose God’s glory, not my glory. As I become more like Christ, people ought to see Jesus as He truly is. I am to be a mirror of Christ, not quite an exact replica, but as nearly exact as is possible.

We grow by God’s grace and guidance. Thankfully, we are not dependent on our own strength and wisdom to accomplish this growth, but His strength and His character. I have tried to grow in my own strength according to my own plan and I have failed. I have also been broken before God and completely dependent upon Him. During those broken times of surrender have I truly seen God work.

It only makes sense that Christians who desire to grow would seek guidance from the sovereign Creator of the universe. When one looks for directions, one seeks the most accurate and reliable reference. The God who knows the future and controls the future ought to be our compass as we seek to honor Him through our daily lives.

The journey toward spiritual maturity is a long and difficult one. This work, this journey toward spiritual maturity, will not be easy. It is a marathon, not a sprint. President Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” God has called us to work and strive to become more like Christ each day.

We ought to pray for and support one another as we mature together in Christ. The Christian life is a team sport, believers helping and guiding and supporting one another as we each seek to become more like Christ in our specific circumstances. God has one plan for me and another plan for you. These differing plans are not competitive, but wonderfully complementary.

Pablo Casals, the famous Spanish cellist who lived to be 97 years of age, when he reached 95, was asked by a young reporter: “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” And Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

[2]

Jesus came that first Christmas to give us the abundant life, now and in eternity. If you don’t know Him as Savior, I ask you to begin your journey with Him today. If you do know Jesus Christ as your Lord, I ask you to grow up, to become more like Him each day.
–30–