I have heard many people say that the important thing is the journey, not the destination. I believe the destination because if it is all about the journey without the destination in mind, that is called being lost. Jesus said that he came to seek and to save the lost. We can’t be on a journey with Jesus and still be lost.
We must keep in mind that there is a DESTINATION. Sometime we act as if our journey ends at accepting Christ. But this is be beginning point of our spiritual journey. The apostle Peter put it like this. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Contrary to popular thought, our destination it is not heaven only. We have been called out of darkness into His WONDERFUL LIGHT. We live in a very dark world (spiritually) that could be called the Kingdom of Darkness. We are moving into the Kingdom of God. As we respond to that call, we must now journey out of that darkness.
We can make the journey because we are now children of God. We are people who have received God’s mercy.
The journey before us is a process to conform us to the image of Christ. The journey may not be easy, convenient or without huge challenges. But whatever we must endure it is worth it to become the people wants us to be. We read of this in Ephesians. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
In Ephesians Paul tells us what God’s plan is. We exist as a church in order that believers can grow up, become mature and attaining the full measure of Christ. In Colossians he speaks more to the practicalities of this change, this journey. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)
We must gather some tools for traveling on our journey. When we take a trip we gather what we need. When I was young we made sure we had a map and compass. Now we program our GPS device, make sure the car is in good shape, stash away some money, pack what we will need and load up the car.
Preparing for our spiritual journey we gather a Bible, some prayer, the Holy Spirit, load up with the family of God.
I believe we see some best practices to move toward spiritual maturity in looking at what the early church did. “They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
I learned several year ago that a healthy Christian does the following things consistently: Worship; Personal Quiet Time & Bible Study; participation in a Life Group; involvement in an ongoing Ministry.
In his writings Andy Stanley tells us that research has shown that there are Five Things God Uses to Grow Our Faith.
- Practical Teaching – Teaching that shows in practical ways how to apply God’s word and God’s spiritual values to the living of our daily lives. These are taught from the pulpit, in Sunday School Classes and in our Life Groups.
- Private Disciplines – Learning to practice personal spiritual disciplines on a regular basis. Some of these disciplines are: Prayer; Scripture Reading, Study and Meditation; Solitude; Silence; Fasting;
- Personal Ministry – Being involved in a hands-on, consistent, practical ministry that impacts those who are seeking to grow with the faith community and for those who presently reside outside of the influence of the church. Some of these would be: working with the church’s youth; leading a small group; serving on a church Ministry Team; feeding the hungry; working in homeless shelters; handing out water to people walking; supporting out ministries in Memphis; giving rides to appointments;
- Providential Relationships – These are relationships with Godly people who can and will be available to us for support and counsel when difficulties arise in our lives. These relationships are developed and nurtured in the context of our Life Groups.
- Pivotal Circumstances – Life provides these. Every life, if we live long enough, has challenges, disappointments, traumas and heartaches. How we respond to them will either draw us closer to God or turn us away from God.
If you will actively and consistently do these five things I can just about guarantee you will grow spiritually.
Copyright © 2015, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is Senior Minister at Lindenwood Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press. He can be contacted @ email@example.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon.