“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:10
Our boys are growing up. They’re only 6 and 4 right now, but I can already see it. New clothes are a regular occurrence and the tooth fairy has had to make several visits recently. They are able to express themselves better with their words and their interests are getting deeper and more meaningful. It is interesting to hear something profound from a six-year-old like, “I know God loves us Dad, but why does he allow tornadoes?” Don’t for a minute believe that we don’t have our share of spilled drinks, temper tantrums, and tears. But in the midst of all this, I can still see that they are growing.
Growing is what they are meant to do. If either one of them suddenly stopped growing it would be real cause for concern. Growing is normal, not growing is the exception. The same is true in regard to our spiritual life.
St. Paul’s words are very instructive for us. It is an incredible gift of the Scriptures that we have not only the words of the Apostles but also their prayers. In Colossians 1:10 we are given the prayer concerns of St. Paul. He says that his prayer is that this community would live their lives consistent with their faith, that they would bear fruit in their good works, and that they would grow in their knowledge of God.
To the Biblical writers, to grow in the “knowledge” of God was much more than simply spending time in study. They understood that the knowledge of God involves our head and heart, our hands and our feet, our words, beliefs, and deeds. Just as physical growth is not limited to simply the intellectual or the physical, so spiritual growth involves all of our spiritual life. And this is what we are built for, to grow.
The apostle knew this and he prayed the Colossian church would experience it. We pray for many things for our churches: for numbers, for balanced budgets, conflict resolution, a larger building etc. St. Paul knew that the root of everything, the most important thing, was growth. We are built for genuine, real and authentic growth and we are given the Sacraments to aid us on our way.
The Sacraments of initiation bring us into Christ. Regular confession and communion grow us up into Christ. They are great gifts, the nutrients we need for our spiritual growth. Along with prayer and study and service (good works) we can experience the growth we were made to experience.
With our boys there are periods where growth is more obvious and intentional. There are also times of regression or stubbornness. But my wife and I are here to help them grow into the people they are created to be.
Funny, but it seems God has given us a family for much the same thing.