While I don't think that Colson's statement is totally correct, he has a valid point: the church lacks spiritually mature individuals. One one of the many books I've been reading recently is Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden. I've only read the introduction and first chapter, but already it's inspiring me.
I almost put in a whole section on these interesting statistics I read in the book. You know, how many Christians attend Bible studies (not many), how many know what their spiritual gift is (not many), and how none of those interviewed put anything about God in their life goals. Sad stuff. While all those statistics are interesting, we all know that depth is becoming rare and hypocrisy is rampant. We've all seen it. We've experienced it ourselves, I'm sure. At least I have.
When I write about these terrible Christians who lack maturity and never try to work at it, I know that I am also talking about myself. While I like to think of myself as a mature Christian, I have to ask myself, am I actively trying to grow? Is spiritual development a priority for me?
Sometimes it is. I like to read Christian books. I pray. I read my Bible. I have spiritual conversations with people. I go to church. But at the same time, it is not always. I do not read my Bible every day. I have not actively memorized Bible verses in at least two years. I have dropped spiritual practices like meditation. Especially when thinking about how mature my faith was when I was in middle school and early high school, I wonder how much I've developed since then. I know that I have, thanks to the grace of God, but maybe I could have gone farther.
In the New Testament, our faith is often compared to an athlete running a race. I know most of us have heard the "running the race" talk at some kind of FCA meeting or something, but ask yourself, is that really your life? Do you really PRACTICE Christianity? Are you actively growing?
That's one thing that I like about Eastern Orthodoxy. It's definitely work. Living the life of an Orthodox Christian is a little daunting for me because it is intense! They confess to a priest. They fast a ton (every Wednesday and Friday, before church, forty days leading up to Christmas, forty days at Lent, to name a few). They have prayers to say in the morning, at lunch, at night. They stand up during church! Being Orthodox is no picnic.
At the beginning of the summer, I was reading a book I got as a graduation present from one of the ladies at St. Nicholas'. It's called Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey Into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy by Frederica Mathewes-Green. Basically, it was the story of a Protestant preacher's wife who converted with her husband. He became an Orthodox priest and they both had to learn how to live the life. Very interesting stuff. Anyway, she said that joining the Orthodox church is kind of joining the Marines. It's intense, hard, and you have to commit whole-heartedly. But you're all doing it together and you become strong and effective. Your team becomes a family. Maybe that's the way it should be.
I think us Protestants can learn from that attitude. Maybe you don't like incense or fasting or crossing. That's fine. But how are you growing? What are you doing to become more like Christ? Are you encouraging others to do likewise?
Let's be deep. The end.