“So, let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely, we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God,” (Hebrews 6:1, NLT)
How do humans grow? They age! They eat! They are nurtured! So in the growth process, there are things out of our control, necessities, and graces. Growth can happen through life situations, cultivation by us, and development through the care of others. These same timeless truths apply to spiritual growth as well.
One biblical story that looks at growth through these perspectives is the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). He heard that Jesus was coming. He climbed a tree in hopes that he would be able to see Jesus. Then as he sat expectantly, Jesus showed up and did not just pass by he told Zacchaeus he wanted to eat with him at his house. Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus surpasses his expectation, meets his needs, and cultivates a life-changing relationship
I love that Jesus meets him where he was (in a position of mockery in the tree), calls him by name, desires to connect with him, and allows their connection and the very presence of Christ to change him forever. This story exemplifies how I most want to interact with God. I want to come seeking him expecting to connect with him knowing that when I do, I will forever be changed from this day forward.
Spiritual growth can happen in several ways. For today, let’s specifically look at Zacchaeus’ growth journey.
- He heard about Jesus.
- He responded to what he heard by expectantly seeking an encounter with Jesus.
- Jesus meets Zacchaeus expectation and goes beyond.
- Zacchaeus responded to Jesus’ request for a personal relational by giving Jesus a space to spend significant time with him.
- Zacchaeus allowed the relationship with Christ to change his heart, mind, and soul which manifested in his outward behaviors and care for others.
Some might say while Zacchaeus’ story is a good example of coming to Christ, it does not really explain growth after you have a relationship with Christ. Yet, Zacchaeus’s story is one I come back to time-after-time seeking guidance for my spiritual growth. God is faithful to meet me in my situations and emotions, captivate me to seek him, exceed my expectant desires, and move me toward life change.
So, how does what we see in Zacchaeus’ story relate to us and our growing relationship with Christ? Spend some time thinking about the following questions that focus on our part in seeking and responding to Christ.
- When was the last time you really listened to hear from or about God?
- Have you responded to knowing about God by maneuvering yourself into situations with an expectation to encounter God?
- How have you seen Jesus meet your expectations as you seek him? How have you responded when he asks more of you than you expected?
- How are you responding to Christ’s desire for a growing relationship? (Some people get weirded out but the word relationship. So here is a word picture, think about your best friend. How did you become best friends? You probably spent significant time together (more than 15 minutes a week) when you talked about important thoughts, feelings, and situations. Over time, you learned about each other, enjoyed doing things that were important to your friend because they asked, and began to reflect the other person. Participating in a relationship with Christ is the same way. Prayer opens the door for communication. Reading the Bible and sharing in Biblical community helps us learn more about God. As we grow through knowledge and communication, we respond to the Holy Spirit in new ways and reflect Christ.)
- How have you actively sought a growing relationship with God? Has it changed your heart, mind, and soul? If so, what outward change is reflective of your relationship with Christ?
May these questions spur you on considering your part in a growing relationship with Christ. And please keep in mind that while our part in our spiritual growth is significate, we cannot grow spiritually without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our desire to seek God, and the help of a