I was away for the discussion on growing ourselves and others but here are the notes that Steph kindly took:
Job Chapter 1 - 'Does God promise to protect us?' was how the conversation began. This is a difficult book, and a difficult passage, since it sets up the story as God bringing Job to Satan's attention and almost baiting him into testing Job. God praises Job and then allows Satan to take everything from him, with the exception that he may not touch Job himself.
Job did everything right, even God recognized this (Job 1:8). Yet God allowed Satan to test Job in a very harsh way. God refers to Job as his "servant". This was reflected on later in our discussion about how in the Scriptures, people like David, Jeremiah and Job cry out to God. Sometimes in anger and frustration, but also worshipping him in the midst of suffering, and calling themselves God's servants.
- Cultural ideas of maturity vs. Biblical - the Biblical model is relying more and more on God in all circumstances
- Maturity is driven by a hunger to draw closer to God, or pursue God (David given as an example). A relationship requires effort - commitment beyond our own immediate desires.
- Being vulnerable/humble before God and allowing yourself to be open to correction/instruction/revelation.
- Forming habits that give time and space to allow God to speak clearly into your life and to see this increase - prayer, solitude, devotional reading, etc. Classic disciplines.
- Having accountability, prayer, worship, discipling within the Body of Christ, seeing this modeled by others
- Getting out of your comfort zone and accepting that growth can often be (but not always) painful as you work out your salvation
- Growth is not about replicating a method, but having a relationship with Jesus Christ, and requires you to be gentle and patient with others and yourself and to listen to the Holy Spirit
What does it mean to increase in the grace, knowledge and love of God in our daily lives?
When it comes to growth, it is important to recognize not just my responsibility to myself, but also to others. A popular refrain I use would be, 'you can't grow yourself by yourself'. A passage I instinctively go to is Ephesians 4:11-16. The ultimate goal is love because this is what God is [see 1 John 4:8]. Maturity is when we learn to live for the sake of others and intentionally look to meet their needs, trusting that in the same way, others will help meet our own. Other key ideas or words in this passage for me would be 'unity', (relational) knowledge of Jesus and the working together of the different roles - apostolic, evangelistic, prophetic, pastoral and teaching - of which we are all a part according to the grace given. It calls for "truthing" (speaking the truth) in love - a connection back to the place of mutual accountability. All this is to be worked out within the context of a loving, forgiving community (family) where we are known and affirmed.
Jesus also seemed to emphasize the importance of smaller, more intimate and focused sets of friendships (as seen with Peter, James and John). We would want to encourage everyone to foster these kinds of 'spiritual friends', threesomes where there is opportunity to share how we are doing (we like to ask the question, 'how are you feeling' as a way of promoting more intimate knowing of one another) and how we sense the Lord speaking to us through our devotional practices (see 'Listening').
In addition to such spiritual friends, there is a great need for father/mother figures in the community - those who fulfill more a role of mentor or spiritual director through their love and their experience of walking in the Spirit. Be encouraged to look for such people in your life. Paul says, "Even though you have ten thousand guardians (teachers) in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." [1 Cor 4:15]
We best facilitate personal growth and transformation through the following;
- Increased meeting of (Relational) Needs (provides MOTIVATION)
- Challenging Unhealthy Thinking and resolving Painful and Negative Emotions (bring FREEDOM)
- Initiating and learning New Behaviors (developing SKILLS)