How Do I Grow My Faith?
Chriselle sets out to answer the age old question and seemingly, the answer isn't new. She solidifies the importance of relationship and challenges us on our posture towards our faith.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
How do I grow my faith? Well, pray and read your bible right?! Sweet done. That’s it. I mean really, it is. The catch is…our attitude and our posture towards God. We can try to force ourselves to do something, to have a routine, to read our bibles every morning and night - but when we can’t keep up with religious routine, we can feel like God is mad at us – a misinformed guilt that pushes us away from getting to know God himself. As if God has some sort of punishment for us for not completing our chores.
Alternatively, we could be led and successful in reading our bibles, letting the principles and instructions control our lives – as they should, right? Well yes, but sometimes this attitude too can misinform us. Instead of using the bible as God’s spoken word to us, we may view it as an instruction manual ultimately seeing God as the Watch maker- He informs us how to live and leaves us to our own devices. Rather than being the constantly with us, we can separate God from the bible. This attitude can see the bible as an owner’s manual for a human being. In With Skye Jethani says when the bible is primarily seen as a depository of divine principles for life, it fundamentally changes the way we engage with God and His word. Rather than a vehicle for knowing God and fostering our communion with him, we search the scriptures for applicable principles that we may employ to control our world and life.
This view might seem like I’m downgrading the importance of the bible, that isn’t the intended case. The bible is God’s breathed and living word that has authority over our faith and lives. But, what we don’t want to do is reduce the bible from God’s revelation of himself to merely a revelation of divine principles for life.
These different views – living life under God and living life over God, are really the difference between religion and relationship. A relationship needs to be nurtured, to be grown, to spend time in and to want to do those things. We know that to simply turn up to church on a Sunday just isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. After all – the bible tells us Jesus’ greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength. All of it. And we’ve been to enough youth camps and alter call services to know that this isn’t an easy task – to give up all we have to be in relationship with God. But that’s where life starts.
Henri Nouwen poses a good question: Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone? And goes on to say It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you “my beloved daughter,” “my beloved son,” “my beloved child.” To pray is to let that voice speak to the centre of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.
And if we know the love of God, if we live with Him, we will then live our lives out of the love the God has given us, growing our faith and guided by his spirit.
A friend of mine said the other day that we should talk more about relationships in church because when we have healthy relationships, that’s when the church thrives. That is so true. More pointedly, when we have a healthy relationship with God, we too will thrive in the relationships we have with each other, prioritizing listening to the prompting of God’s spirit.
The only way we will know how to hear Him is if we actually stop and take the time to listen.
So how do I grow my faith? Well like anything with life, we need to nurture it – feeding it with the right things, inputting time and effort and giving it priority. You wouldn’t leave your plants in your living room to die, or stop feeding your dog or even let your milk sour, so why would we not invest into a relationship with the living, transformational, almighty God?
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Chriselle Lees-Thomas has completed a Bachelor of Social Work at Massey University and now works at Windsor Park Baptist Church full time. She loves understanding people and unpacking faith. Though involved in a bunch of different things, she likes to write in the spare time she does have. She would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org // Photo credit: Chris Grobler
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