"Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God" (Colossians 2:16-19).

In a book (The Purse-Driven Life by comedienne Anita Renfroe) given to Joyce, Renfroe discussed growth as changing boxes. “If people’s expectations of us put us ‘in a box,’ it seems to me that we spend a good deal of our time on earth just swapping boxes. We get some knowledge in one area of our life and realize we have been enslaved to an idea or expectation. We leave that mindset, only to find that we miss the structure the box afforded us, so we find another one to climb into. We say we don’t like them, but we keep climbing in” (pp. 44, 45).

Spiritual growth accurately can be compared to outgrowing boxes. While my graduate degree is in Bible, my college undergraduate degree is in chemistry (long story). I remember spending a lot of time learning a view of an atom, only later to be told the view must expand. That happened over and over as we moved to bigger boxes!

A time in life was when parents had the answers, then when a gifted Sunday school teacher had the answers, when a beloved preacher had the answers, when an insightful professor had the answers, or when a movement had the answers. Parents had some of the answers—as did Sunday school teachers, preachers, professors, movements, etc.

Why only some answers? As we grow, have new experiences, and age, we discover dimensions of questions that were unknown to us. You provide yourself insight. Was any spiritual question “the same” at age 15 as it was at age 8? Or at age 25 compared to age 15? Or at age 40 compared to age 25? Or at age 65 compared to age 40?

Do you realize how much you have grown? There was the “all black and white with no gray” age; the “black, white, and a little gray” age; the “black, white, and expanding gray” age; and the age when wisdom confessed “I don’t know”—which was completely unacceptable in the “all black and white” age. Pick your subject—child rearing, godly marriage, unity, love, forgiveness, holiness, Christian service—and watch scripture cause godly people to grow into the Lordship of Jesus Christ and God’s character and purposes. A 15-year-old will conclude things that cause a 40-year-old to shake his or her head because the 15-year-old has not even seen all the question.

A “think about” question: was God with you in your small box? When your growth demanded a bigger box, did God go with you? Was He in the bigger box ahead of you? Can you put God in a box, or is God bigger than all boxes? Do you understand that healthy congregations are made of people who do not fear spiritual growth? Never stagnate where you are! Never stop growing closer to God!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 20 March 2008

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