Every year around this time, many set out to make their New Year’s Resolutions. A few actually stick to their resolutions but unfortunately many will not keep them for very long. In fact most surveys point to mid February as the time that most abandon and forget their resolutions for the year. When thinking through a church theme for 2017 I really wanted the emphasis to be on spiritual growth both individually and as a church. However I really did not want to see us take the same approach with spiritual growth that we take with resolutions. So how can we set goals to grow or change without it ending up like most resolutions?
When we make resolutions we don’t intend on giving up on them six weeks into the year. We all really want our changes to stick. If we seek personal growth we want it to be sustained growth. But if we’re honest, we often lack the will power to see change all the way through. As I studied the topic of growth in the Scriptures it was very clear that as Christians God expects us to grow. In fact in Hebrews 5:11-14 the older Jewish Christians were challenged for their lack of growth in knowledge of the Word. The writer of Hebrews says in v 12,
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
This is just one example of many that highlights the expectation that a true follower of Jesus grows. But the question is, how? We will never be able to consistently grow on our will power alone. To make matters worse, these failed attempts to will ourselves to growth end up demotivating us and causing us to even ask, “what’s the point?”
As I looked through Scriptures I stumbled onto a verse that I believe points us in the right direction when it comes to spiritual growth, Colossians 2:19
They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Spiritual growth is not dependent on your will power but on being connected to Jesus and His body. Spiritual growth comes as a result of connection to Him.
If you want to grow focus on connecting to Him! Jesus taught this same principle in John 15:5 when he said that if you remain in Him you will bear much fruit. He also added that apart from Him you can do nothing. Do you really believe this? It is essential to understand that spiritual growth comes from a connection to Jesus. Spiritual growth is not dependent on your will power, instead it is dependent on connection to God and He will cause growth in your life through His power.
So in 2017, let’s remember that our growth will not depend on how hard we try to grow but on how well we stay connected to God. We all have many things that demand our attention, but through it all we must be careful to not lose our connection to God. If we do, we not only unplug from the source of spiritual growth but we also end up believing and maybe teaching all kinds of strange things. This is what was being addressed in Colossians chapter 2. But as is often said in sports, “Don’t play to not lose, play to win!” Let’s seek to connect with God as a priority in our lives and then we will see the spiritual growth that only God can bring about.
Brothers and sisters, may 2017 be our most “connected” year… because connected to Him we will all win!