Let’s face it, there are a lot of disadvantages to growing as a Christian. Growing is not passive but proactive. It therefore takes effort, focus, devotion and commitment, as well as other hard sounding words. It’s much easier just to be a coasting Christian who doesn’t put in any effort to growing. So here are my tips for how not to grow as a Christian:
Don’t Read the Bible: Since the Bible is the main way God speaks to us, if we avoid reading the Bible then God will be significantly limited from speaking to us. That means he won’t be as able to challenge us about how we know him, delight in him and live for him.
Don’t Memorise the Bible: Like the previous one, but even more so, remembering what the Bible says stores it up in your mind and heart so that it lingers in you for longer. If you should avoid reading the Bible then you should certainly avoid memorising it.
Don’t Pray: As God speaks to us through the Bible, so the main way we speak to God is through prayer. If we stop praying then our gratitude will cease and our recognition of who God is and affection for him will remain as it is. Prayer doesn’t help you stay the same so leave it out.
Don’t Gather with God’s People: If you’re trying not to grow then you’ve got to avoid other Christians. Christians have a terrible habit of encouraging each other. Such encouragement will challenge you to keep on going and growing in Christ, so make sure you avoid church, and even more so the smaller groups of church where such challenging relationships are intensified.
Don’t Listen to Sermons: Whether in church gatherings or online on your own, make sure you avoid all preaching of God’s Word. The preacher’s sole purpose is to help you grow, so the less you listen, the less you will grow.
Don’t Give: Your time and money are yours to use as you please aren’t they? And when you start giving away your time and money it stretches you to depend more upon God. Warning: depending more upon God is a sure means of growth. So don’t do it.
Don’t Listen to Christian Music: This can be really dangerous. Music has a way of stirring your emotions, and as emotions are stirred alongside Christian truths in lyrical form, so it can stir your affection for Christ. The obvious result would be growth. Best not to.
Don’t Read Christian Books, Blogs and Magazines: Many Christians find other Christian writings very helpful to their growth as it supplements their reading of the Bible. So if you don’t want to grow, make sure you subscribe to nothing, and don’t invest in any books.
Don’t Let Anyone Mentor You: A mentor can be a very helpful thing if you did want to grow. Having another more mature Christian come alongside you to read the Bible with you and talk through the things you find hard is always going to be a help in growth. So you’ll need to make sure you don’t get mentored.
Don’t Mentor Anyone: Funnily enough, mentoring a younger Christian can actually be a really great way of helping yourself to grow as a Christian, since it stretches you and encourages you. So you’ll want to avoid mentoring as much as being mentored.
Don’t Share the Gospel: Whether it’s being tested by hard questions, which stretch your understanding of God’s Word and commitment to Christ, or whether it’s the joy of seeing an unbeliever beginning to grasp the message of grace, evangelism has plenty of risks when it comes to avoiding growth. Best to avoid it altogether.
There are plenty of other things that we could mention, such as fasting, corporate confession, journaling your devotional life, and so on. But just make sure you avoid anything that sounds like it might stretch you, challenge you, cause you to think, to love, or to get agitated in your faith. Do nothing that sounds like it might be good for a Christian to do.
Of course, the problem is that where living thing don’t grow, instead they stagnate and die. When a pool of water doesn’t flow, it turns into poison. Where a muscle isn’t exercised and enlarged it atrophies and withers to nothing. When an animal is lying by the side of the road not moving, chances are there’s something seriously wrong. Likewise, the Christian who doesn’t grow has something seriously wrong with them, they’re withering away and will likely be poisonous.
Though it is hard work, takes focus, energy and discipline, and though it doesn’t always come easily, make sure you resolve to grow as a Christian this year.
(This article was original published in the January edition of our church magazine.)