At the heart of spiritual life are two key relationships – our relationship with God and our relationship with God’s people. Much of what we do as Christians centres around fostering these relationships. As we draw nearer to God, we also draw nearer to each other. As these relationships grow we encounter faith challenges, find deeper trust, discover inner healing face changes and are transformed to be more like Jesus. This is increasingly evident with the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives producing kindness, gentleness, love, self-control …
Early in their relationship with God Christians are baptised as a sign of being part of God’s family and a member of the local church. When people asked Peter how they could be saved he replied, Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38–39) The Ethiopian official who heard the gospel from Philip said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptised?” (Acts 8:36–38) Ordinarily people are baptised soon after they come to faith. This act is a confirmation for the new convert and a a witness to others of their newfound faith.
The first time I walked into a gym I had no idea how to use any of the equipment and it looked intimidating. But then a trainer showed me the equipment, modelled how to use it and gave me a list of exercises. Suppose you were a spiritual trainer and you were given oversight to help new Christians to develop spiritually, what advice would you give them?
To develop their faith, we encourage new Christians to:
- Attend church regularly. To join with the family, learning to worship God in song and prayer. Attending church exposes us to Christian teaching, helps us make sense of the bible and encourages us, with others, to apply our faith.
- Develop personal faith habits of regular bible reading and prayer. Bible reading and prayer are like breathing, eating and drinking – essential for spiritual life.
- Join a growth group – a small gathering of people who study the bible together. This gives you space to develop friendships with other Christians and to have a safe place to ask questions and explore bible truth.
- Join a team. Teams allow us to serve God together. We have many teams and being part of one will help your faith to grow. Each of these disciplines will strengthen you and help your faith to soar.
- Share their faith with gentleness and respect. As they have found the wonder of faith in Jesus, we encourage people to share this with friends and family. One small step in this might be to invite others to our baptism, inviting them to celebrate with us.
I am confident that each week at church we have some people who are considering Christianity, some who are new to faith or young in their faith, as well as long serving mature Christians. We read of the early church … the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47) … so we pray this will also happen today in our church. Those who are mature in the faith can help those new to faith come up to speed by including and inviting them to take part in our growth groups and ministry teams.
In the week ahead I invite you to consider:
What spiritual discipline would you recommend to others to help them get up to speed? (How have you benefited from that yourself?)
What spiritual discipline do I need to focus on this week in order to soar in my faith?
Rev John Malcolm