Not Quite Up to the Challenge Yet
A couple of months ago I downloaded a book onto my Kindle after reading an intriguing review of it. The title of the review is what initially caught my attention: “How to Get Godly (if You’ve Got the Guts).” Hmm, a book that’s going to present the path of discipleship as one which is challenging and requires a certain amount of ‘guts’ to walk! The title of the review threw down the gauntlet, and I quickly felt ready to take up the challenge. So I bought the book and loaded it onto my e-reader.
But I didn’t actually start reading it right away. Because, well, um….I was already in the middle of another book. At least that’s the excuse I told myself. The truth was, I was intrigued, but I wasn’t quite ready. I didn’t have the guts quite yet.
But this week I finally opened it up and started reading. It’s called Got Guts? Get Godly. The author is Dr. Roger Barrier. Here’s a video overview of the book.
At Any Price?
Here’s how he begins: “Spiritual growth is not hard. Is it as simple as the prayer, ‘Dear Lord, please make me a spiritual man or woman at any price.'”
Whoa! At any price? I’m only once sentence in and he’s already taking me down a path I’m not sure I want to go. Any price? And is he truly suggesting that is a simple thing to do? Isn’t that kind of like telling God that you’ll go anywhere he wants you to go, and do anything he wants you to do, even if it’s the last place you want to go and the last thing you want to do? Doesn’t the author know that if you give God full permission, you’re probably going to be stretched way beyond your comfort zone? Any price?
But here’s his very next sentence.
"Properly prayed, quietly surrendered to the process and consistently committed to the relationship, I guarantee that this is one prayer God will answer in your life. One day you will look back and say, 'One of the best days of my life was the day that I began to pray to be a spiritual man or woman at any price.' You'll never regret it!"
Roger Barrier’s life purpose is to help people mature in their Christian faith. He has spent forty years encouraging thousands of Christians to pray consistently for spiritual growth. His call came some time after their first child, Jessie, died at three months of age due to a medical condition with which she was born. One day during his devotions he asked God what the purpose was for their short journey with Jessie. Here’s their conversation as he details it:
God: Roger, do you know how much it hurts to have a little baby who can’t grow up physically?
Roger: Oh, yes, God; it really hurts.
God: Roger, I gave you this child so that you might have a tiny little taste of how I feel when one of my newborn-again children refuses to grow up.
One day you will look back and say, “One of the best days of my life was the day that I began to pray to be a spiritual man or woman at any price.”Dr. Roger Barrier, in the book ‘got guts? get godly.’
Forty years ago God called Roger Barrier to the ministry of helping Christians take responsibility for their own spiritual growth. After encouraging and teaching thousands of Christians to do this, he’s come to believe that the greatest tragedy in the Christian church is the believer who makes little or no effort to intentionally grow in their faith. Conversely, he says the greatest joy is the Christ-follower who is purposefully growing up to maturity.
Sunday Worship Only Goes So Far
I don’t know what the statistics are, but my guess is that a majority of Christians in America would identify the Sunday worship service as their primary source of spiritual nourishment. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume the average worship service is one hour. If the average weekly awake time for Americans is 120 hours, that means we devote 0.08% of our our week to spiritual enrichment. That’s less than 1%. Compare this to K-12 students who devote 27% of their awake time to being in the classroom. If we believe it takes being in class 27% of the week in order for our children to grow in their knowledge, why would we think we can achieve significant spiritual growth by devoting only 0.08% of our week to it?
The fact is, as a primary source of spiritual nourishment, the Sunday worship service is helpful only for the new Christian. Eventually, a Believer needs more than what they can “get out of” a typical worship service. Baby’s move on from milk. As they grow, they require greater quantities of food, and more substantial food. So it is with our walk of faith. As we make our way along the spiritual pathway, we will stop growing if we don’t consciously and intentionally take matters into our own hands and supplement the Sunday worship service with our own means of spiritual development. If we fail to do that, we will fail to grow.
My Hope For You
Over the past six weeks I’ve often wondered how you, the members of our congregation, are doing spiritually. While it’s normal for me to wonder about this, it’s been especially on the forefront of my mind in the absence of our normal weekly worship service. My biggest question has been this: Among the people for whom I have pastoral responsibilities, who has been regularly participating in our online worship during this time of shelter-at-home? The available online analytics give us just a piece of the picture; we know the number of people who engage with the worship video posted on Facebook. But our current analyzing resources don’t tell us who views them, or how long they stick with the video. So it’s a limited picture of how well we’re reaching people with our digital remote worship.
My hope and prayer is that you are doing two things. First, I hope you’re participating in some form of online worship. Second, that you’re spending time doing your own Bible reading/study and/or devotions during the week. If you’d like to engage in personal faith development but aren’t sure where to begin, please know that Celeste Jaimes, our Director of Discipleship, and I are working on putting together some resources that will be made available to everyone on our church website. Our hope is that you will avail yourself of these resources so that you’re not not having to rely on something that only takes 0.08% of your week for your own spiritual growth.