Imagine a newborn child; he is born healthy, all of his members and faculties are in working condition. As time progresses, the infant’s body seems to be developing normally but when it is time to crawl, he does not. When it is time to walk, he cannot since he has never developed the muscles and skills necessary to enjoy this simple task. Eventually when it is time to run and jump and play with others, this child cannot. Instead, he lays sprawled out on the carpet, unable to enjoy life with his peers. His failure to develop has stranded him on the carpet, in oversized dirty diapers. What seemed cute and acceptable when he was a baby is no longer so. In this case, he has failed to grow and mature not because of a defect, but rather because he simply refused to. In his baby talk gibberish, his parents can decipher his attitude, “I don’t want to!”
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death. -Hebrews 6:1
This is a tragedy played out within our churches and even our pulpits. We suffer from an overabundance of infants in dirty diapers who believe they are mature merely because they uttered a prayer of commitment to Christ many years past. Time by itself; however, is a poor indicator of someone’s spiritual depth or maturity. Only time with Jesus is the purest promoter of true spiritual depth. Jesus said it this way, “Abide in me and you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). Therefore we must cultivate a lifestyle of time spent at the feet of Jesus, time in the Word of Jesus and time with the people of Jesus, accomplishing the ministry of Jesus.
It is helpful to acknowledge that there is a process to maturity. Some things are beneficial and can speed growth while others are detrimental and can stunt or prevent growth altogether. The surest path to facilitate spiritual depth and maturity lies in the disciplines. These disciplines are the manifestation of “abiding”:
Prayer: We are Christians. Simply stated, this means that we are followers of Christ. If we follow Jesus, he will lead us to Gethsemane and other solitary places to spend countless hours in intimate fellowship and conversation with the Father.
Prayer statistics are all over the board so I rarely point to them as an example of either the quality or quantity of the average Christian’s prayer life. At the very least; however, it seems evident that prayer is seen as something very personal and the average Christian (and pastor) understands the value of it while also feeling like they fall miserably short of what would be considered a vibrant prayer life. Whether you agree or disagree with the statistical data on a page, the undeniable fact is that a majority of us have lost our passion for and our persistence in prayer. It seems that we would rather send God prayer tweets; occasional and random requests preceded by a hashtag. We love our computers and social media but they have preconditioned us to believe that our relationship with God can be cultivated like our Facebook page or our blog post. A quick tweet, pic or post does not, by itself, facilitate a deep relationship and God will not respond substantively to a superficial post designed to show our “best” side.
If we want to connect with God and we want to grow, we must pray often, we must pray transparently and we must refuse to offer a photo shopped reflection of ourselves. Instead we must offer to God our true selves: warts, blemishes and all.
Study the Bible: A medical doctor must spend many years of his life studying various books and going to many classes in order to get to the point where he is an expert within his field. Than he must continue his education by participating in seminars, workshops, more classes, more reading and so on, in order to ensure that he is able to continue to perform at the highest level possible.
We have a task weightier than any doctor. They deal with physical bodies, we with the spiritual and eternal soul. They must master many books, we must master one. We cannot afford to be lax in this area. We must not only read God’s Word but we must study it in order to become experts in the things of God and to mature.
Participate in the Local Church: Why would I even need to mention this? Because there is a modern thought that is spreading like gangrene and causing much damage. The thought postulated is, “I don’t have to go to church in order to serve God.”
We must immediately ask ourselves if this is the opinion of Jesus. Please remember that Jesus was often at the temple and at the synagogue. Jesus understood the foundational truth that God created us to be communal and relational beings. Through community, we find connection, we communicate and we fulfill the Great Commission. Being a contributing part of a local body of believers facilitates our personal growth while simultaneously giving us opportunity to help others in their walk. Like the early church, we meet at church to pray, to eat, to fellowship, to hear the Apostle’s teaching, to remember Jesus and to continue His ministry (Acts 2:42-47). Christianity was never designed to be a spectator sport but rather, it is a vibrant relationship with God and His Bride which propels us into a hurting world to effect healing and transformation. Try that alone at home-not possible.
There are other ingredients to a healthy Christian spiritual life; however, we must start somewhere. Prayer, the Bible and regular Church attendance is a good place to start. Imagine what our ministries, our churches and our families would look like if we prayed regularly with passion and purpose. Then add to that a regular regiment of Bible study. Finally, add regular fellowship with other Christians in order to build each other up and to expand God’s Kingdom. I think you may agree that this type of life could not be contained to mediocrity or to spiritual infancy. This may sound harsh, but let us commit to finally maturing out of the dirty diapers of our infancy. Only then can we enjoy the garments of satisfying servanthood, of passionate intimacy and of unwavering allegiance to the God who rarely acts the way we want him to. (Perhaps that is the topic for a future blog).
 Simply stated, the disciplines are activities like prayer, studying the Bible, fellowship, fasting, meditation, etc. I am assuming that the reader understands that although these are tangible activities, they are “spiritual disciplines”, meaning that the Holy Spirit is actively involved in the process, from start to finish. I recommend the book, The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.
 Read my blog entitled, “Study the Word.”