They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That is our hope as we launch into a new season of discipleship ministry at MDPC using the picture of a tree by a stream of water to illustrate the path of spiritual growth. The tree represents four stages in the spiritual life:
“I don’t believe” to “I believe.”
Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me...rivers of living water will flow from within them. –John 7:37-38
In stage one, we first come to Jesus by way of experiencing the Living Water that Jesus offers us, the new life that never runs dry.
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“I am growing in faith, learning about God, and serving the body.”
The (believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer... All the believers were together and had everything in common. –Acts 2:42-44
In stage two, we move into that sturdy foundation of our life with Him, the trunk of the tree. This is where we first experience the wonder of unpacking God’s Word in Christian fellowship, participate regularly in authentic worship, and are inspired to give our lives away in meaningful service.
“God is purifying my faith. I am experiencing a deeper understanding of who I am in Christ and who God is in all His fullness.”
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. –John 15:5
As we transition into stage three, we find in ourselves a growing hunger for deeper experiences in Christ: the deep-dive Bible study, the prayer retreat, accepting the responsibilities of leadership, and other, more costly opportunities to give our lives away.
“It’s all about God.”
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. –John 12:24
In stage four, we find our greatest joy in giving our lives away completely for His glory: wherever He sends us, we gladly will go.
Where are you? Have you tasted the Living Water? Are you eager to learn more about the Bible and begin serving God? Are you craving the deep-dive? Has God equipped and called you to give your life away to serve as a spiritual shepherd and teacher for others?
Jesus is with us, no matter where we are. Through the Holy Spirit, He wants to equip you fully and give you the opportunity to enjoy Him at every stage. The stages cannot be raced through, but represent the unfolding process of Christian maturity over a lifetime.
Let us come alongside you in that process. Ask God to show you, honestly and without judgment, where you can best grow in your faith this season – and then sign up for an opportunity to help you do that.
While we have made suggestions here according to the various stages of spiritual growth, feel free to jump in anywhere. You are always welcome.