What does it take to cause growth? Whether a tree, a kitten, or a believer in terms of growth in godliness, certain things have to happen.
Change. It’s pretty axiomatic: growth brings change, and change can’t happen without growth. I’m planting about an acre of grass seed. In order for that seed to become a lawn it must break out of the husk, forge through the soil, and reach toward the sun. A believer cannot grow to be more like Jesus without breaking free from habits and sins that hinder us while also pressing toward Christ.
Effort. Growth requires effort. A certain amount of growth happens with little to no effort, but for a living form to thrive it must exert effort. Tree roots push past stony ground to find fertile soil, while a young lion cub must at some point learn to hunt if she will survive. Believers too must “exercise ourselves for godliness” (I Timothy 4:7). We don’t drift into Christlikeness; we choose to pursue Christ.
Forces Outside Us Must Be at Work. A plant cannot create water. If water does not come, it will eventually die. Animals starve in the wild because of forces in nature that bring famine or other factors beyond them. When the rains come, however, the bounty is enjoyed by every living creature in its path. As Christ followers we have resources beyond us to help our growth: the Word, the Spirit, and the church, for instance.
The healthiest trees are not necessarily the ones in the safest place, but those who have through both plenty and lack pushed toward growth. In the same way, you and I grow more rigorously as Christians when we are pushed out of our comfort zones and stretched to flourish. This is why I’m convinced one of the most effective ways to grow as a disciple of Jesus comes from consistently sharing Jesus with others. Sharing Jesus will change you, pushing you out of the Christian bubble into the real world of everyday life. Sharing Jesus will cause you to confront your weaknesses theologically and interpersonally. It will push you past the stones of dead religion toward the fertile soil of living out your faith daily.
Sharing Jesus requires effort. You don’t drift into witnessing. The more you share, the more you want to share. When people say no to Jesus, your heart becomes more tender toward the lost. When someone you share with comes to faith, the joy you feel is the closest thing to getting saved all over again! Okay, you can’t do that, but it brings great joy. Sharing Jesus regularly reminds us we have resources greater than us. I recently had the honor of leading someone to Christ. It was a clear, no-mistaking divine appointment. I may have been a Christian for 46 years now, but I marveled at the Holy Spirit’s work that day. It’s both humbling and life-giving.
This is a big reason I wrote Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out. It’s a guide to help you grow. It’s much more than a “how to share Christ” book, though it’s not less than that. It’s designed to help you and other believers gain confidence in sharing Christ, to see the value of change, to give effective effort in the cause of the Great Commission, and to see the resources we have from our Father.
When the book releases April 1, there will be a landing website where you can order copies (and pastors and leaders, you will be able to buy in bulk at a discount!). You will also have access to a series of eight lessons where I teach through each chapter of the book. This way you can have small groups or classes go through the book where each participant reads a chapter a week, comes together to watch the 20 minute video, discuss it, and make specific application that week. You can also do this one-on-one with someone you are mentoring.
There’s a 60 day journey included as well. Today in the fitness world there are a number of plans to help you jump start your health in 21, 60, or 90 days. Fitness experts understand physical growth doesn’t happen in a day. It’s the same with growing in our witness. Change takes time. But it’s worth it. You can preorder the book here and start growing soon.
I hope you will see growth as an opportunity to change. To be pushed. I hope you will see sharing Jesus as less a burden to do and more a means to becoming more like Jesus. Witness leads to spiritual fitness!