We were born to grow. We are wired to grow in relationship. You cannot say that a relationship is meaningful or satisfying if it reaches a certain point and then nothing changes. Relationship with Jesus Christ is the same. We can find life by growing in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Life brings struggle. It’s not easy. There is pain. There are barriers that we must push through. We will all hit a wall that we can’t push through.
A growing relationship with Jesus Christ brings life. It brings hope. It brings strength to work through the struggle. It provides strength.
This relationship has been called “The Way of Christ”.
A guy named Paul knew something of this struggle. He wrote a letter to some friends in a city called Philippi about this. They had already started a relationship with Jesus Christ, but he was writing to them about growth.
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1: 9-11 NLT
The church in Philippi started with a bang. Paul and Silas visited this major city and saw miracles. By God’s grace, a girl was delivered from her life of slavery. Men were making money from her ability as a fortune-teller. The story describes that she did this by the help of a demon. Paul told the demon to leave and she was free. The men were mad about their loss of income and literally dragged Paul and Silas to the authorities. City officials were worried about a riot and threw them in jail. Paul and Silas sing praises to God from their jail cell. An earthquake opens the prison doors. Chains fall off each prisoner. Paul stops the jailer’s attempted suicide and leads him (and his family) into the “Way of Christ”. City officials apologize to Paul and Silas then release them.
After all of this a group of believers come together, believing in Christ, and pursuing the “Way of Christ”. This group of people, we call a “church”, live out their faith and make a difference in their city, Philippi a city of influence. Paul really loved these people. They were generous and always keeping an eye out for a way to help.
In that day, “The Way of Christ” was spoken of by people in poverty and people of wealth in power. Just like today people were trying to figure out what it meant to grow in this relationship with Jesus Christ.
Paul writes about their love growing. He also writes about their understanding the growth process. When we come into contact with Jesus Christ we want to learn more about Him. This brings change. Jesus Christ brings salvation! You can be forgiven of your mistakes! When you are changed by Jesus Christ it affects the rest of your life.
Notice in what Paul writes that after the point of salvation we have choices to make. We are called to be active learners. We have a responsibility to seek out God. We will benefit from this pursuit!
The example of “fruit” is helpful. We might plant the seed, water the little sprout, care for the tree, and harvest the fruit. But we cannot take credit for the life that starts in the seed. The love of Christ comes by the initiation of God. It is by His grace. It is His gift. We do have responsibility to be involved with the growth. This balancing act between God’s grace and our response is now our growth process. “The Way of Christ” is just that – our response to His love. He didn’t wait until we were at our best, but when we were at our worst He chose to love us. Now we get to respond to His love!
This is not about “do this” or “don’t do that”. It is about our response to His love. There will be struggle, but we have an opportunity to daily walk in the “Way of Christ”.
1. Accept the love and forgiveness of Christ.
2. Daily remember who He is to you and what He has done for you.
3. Make an effort every day to learn more about Jesus Christ. Pick up a Bible. Pray.
4. Share the journey with other people. Be honest and talk about it. Church will help!
5. Find a guide who is a few steps ahead of you to talk with, someone who will pray for you.
6. Tell your story to someone who is a few steps behind you. We are all in this together.
7. Write down a few things about your journey on “The Way”. You may have kids who want to know about how you got where you are.