二○一八年八月二十五日／八月二十六日 Click here for English version
Spiritual Growth is Not Self-Centered
Rev Hung Kwai Fong
The Hong Kong Bible Conference held earlier this month saw a huge attendance. Many brothers and sisters grouped together to enjoy the spiritual feast. I am much encouraged by their enthusiasm and desire to know the Lord.
Many brothers and sisters are keen to grow spiritually. They enrol in Sunday school and outside Bible and theological courses. Nevertheless, due to shortage of time or other reasons, the courses often keep them almost fully occupied, leaving no time for actualization of faith together with other believers. As a result, they may know a lot, but do not have adequate experience putting their faith into practice. It is like having a big head but a small heart – a top-heavy Christian. The courses are often selected based on their personal preferences, or the styles and qualifications of the course instructors. They may even be calculating in considering church, fellowship or small group attendance: Is it worth the time I put in? Is it helpful to my spiritual life? While the pursuit of spiritual growth is heartening, we must also understand that growth and maturity is not the result of individual endeavor alone. If you are concerned about your spiritual progress, you need to be together with other believers.
Two highly respected Reformation theologians, Martin Luther and John Calvin, have stressed the close links between spiritual growth and the practice of faith. To Martin Luther, prayer really targets actualization in daily life. He put forward the doctrine that all baptized Christians are "priests" in the sight of God and that they are required to live out the Christian mission on earth. John Calvin emphasized the need for believers to glorify God in justified and sanctified daily living. He added that spiritual progress is not a personal effort. We need to grow up along with other brothers and sisters in the church.
God called us into the Christian community, which is the body of Christ. All parts of the body are inter-related. If only one part grows but other parts cannot catch up, that is not healthy growth. The church community is where we practice our faith and receive concrete training in loving God and our brothers and sisters. "For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen" (1 John 4:20b). In the Christian community, we can serve one another and at the same time explore and realize our personal calling and collective mission.
We are now more than half way through this Fellowship and Small Group Participation Year. It is my sincere hope that brothers and sisters can really find a spiritual companion in their fellowship or small group and that they, together, can seek spiritual growth and realization of faith. May the Lord help us to leave the comfort zone and be prepared to spend time and effort to build up a relationship with brothers and sisters, and together grow up spiritually.