Luke 2:40, 52 (NIV)
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. ... And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people.
Most believe Jesus began his ministry sometime around the age of 30 and died somewhere in his mid-thirties. Almost all of the stories about Jesus found in our Bible focus on this time of his ministry. So what happened in those first 30 years? Of the four gospels telling the story of Jesus’s life, only Luke tells a couple of short stories from Jesus’s childhood. I would encourage you to take a look at those two stories found in the second chapter of Luke; however, I want to focus on the very end of those two stories. The two verses you see here are very similar. They conclude both of those stories and span many more years of his life than his entire recorded work in ministry. So nearly all we have to go off of to describe the early life of the most important person to ever walk the Earth is this:
- He grew in wisdom
- He grew in strength and stature
- He grew in grace and favor with God
- He grew in favor with other people
No matter our age or place in life, many of us are constantly looking for ways we can grow in our faith. I believe we can look to this simple recipe for the answer. If you really unpack these four things and apply them to your life, I believe you will see amazing results in your own personal spiritual growth. Always seek wisdom from the Bible and others, develop habits in your life that will keep you healthy and strong, make time and space to deepen your relationship with God, and build strong community with other people.
I spent one summer during my college years testing this formula. I was interning in Washington, D.C. in the Senate during the day, but in the evenings and weekends I was doing ministry through an organization called Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) to try and build Christian community and relationships with other interns and staff.
My roommate and I agreed to commit ourselves to a daily regimen aimed at helping us grow in these four ways. Every day we set aside time to read our Bibles and study together, working to memorize one verse of Scripture each week. We also worked out in our tiny dorm room at George Washington University by doing a sequence of pushups, pull-ups (using the desk), and sit-ups. We had a sort of countdown for each exercise that wen like this: 10 then rest, 9 then rest, 8 then rest, 7 then rest, 6 then rest, 5 then rest, 4 then rest, 3 then rest, 2 then rest, 1 then finished. In addition, we set aside time of quiet prayer alone with God each day. Finally, we agreed to have one intentional conversation with someone each day that was deeper than a surface level or task level topic (for instance, chatting about the weather didn't qualify). For accountability, we would share this conversation with one another before bed at night.
By the end of the summer the results were clear. We had grown in wisdom: there are probably about 8 verses of Scripture that, to this day, I have memorized because of that time. We had grown in strength and stature: by the end of the summer we could actually do all 55 reps (the sum of 10, 9, 8…) of each exercise without having to rest between each set. Our relationship with God was stronger: we had learned new ways to have quiet time with God (such as taking a walk or outside while focusing on prayer). Our relationship with others was stronger: we knew our neighbors, co-workers, and friends in real, tangible ways.
As I believe each of us can focus on these 4 things to grow in our faith, I also believe the church can be an amazing tool to help us do this in a healthy and helpful way. We are made stronger when we do things together. As a church, we can help each other grow even more meaningfully than my roommate and I did in that tiny dorm room. This Resurrection West community should be more than a place we attend once a week on Sunday. It should be a place that is woven into the rhythm of our lives because it is where we are finding ourselves growing like Jesus did.
Here at Resurrection West, we have the opportunity to add another tool to our church that will provide a place to grow not only for ourselves, but for people we don’t know yet for generations to come.
I believe the additional parking, expansion of seating in worship, and addition of the community life center will provide opportunities for people in every season of life to make the church a greater part of the rhythm of their lives, whether they are just beginning to learn about God or have had a relationship with God for years. I see kids, youth, and adults all growing in wisdom through Bible studies and teaching. I see all generations finding ways to live more healthy lives in various spaces inside and outside the new building. I see people of all ages worshipping, praying, and talking to God inside the building and around the property. I can see people coming here to learn and connect with one another so they can be sent into the community to build relationships with the people encounter every day.
Can you see it? We should all want this to be a place for us – the church, the community of God – to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and other people.
I hope I never stop trying to find ways to continue to grow in my faith and deepen my relationship with You. I pray that Church of the Resurrection West can continue to be a place for me to be in community with others who are either starting or continuing on this same journey.
Be with us as we consider new ways and new tools to be this kind of place. Specifically, we ask for your wisdom and guidance in this campaign and building project. May our sacrifices be used to build a tool for growth. May our decisions be for your good. May the fruits of these plans be plentiful for years to come.
– Travis Morgan