A speaker at Inter Varsity’s Urbana student missionary convention once said to the students attending the convention: “A growing Christian is a reading Christian, but a reading Christian is not necessarily a growing Christian.” He went on to explain that the mere fact of reading Christian literature doesn’t guarantee that we will be growing Christians unless we reflect upon and incorporate what we are reading into our lives and thought. But he also stated strongly that in his experience, people whose faith was growing were all reading Christians. He challenged us to read and reflect upon what we read.
We might well ask why this statement is true. I believe it has to do with our attitudes and motivation. Are we reading because we are desperate to know more of God or merely for intellectual stimulation? Are we content with the way things are with no desire to grow further in our faith and therefore don’t read at all? When we do read, are we reflecting upon what we know of God and allowing him to change us?
God, through his Spirit, often uses the written word to speak to our hearts, minds and souls. This is true whether we are reading Scripture, the words penned by Christian authors, or even those written by secular authors. But if we are to grow, it is very important to think about and integrate what we read with our previous understanding and knowledge. We are bombarded every day by a combination of the written word, the spoken word and the visual image. Various forms of the media are constantly in front of us. It is very easy to just accept what we see and hear at face value, without thought. To what extent do we run what we see and hear through the filter of our faith? Or do we let these images and words infiltrate our thoughts and minds without reflection?
If we are to grow in our faith, we need to reflect upon the events of each day. Sometimes we will need to ask the question, “What does God think about this?” Other times we will need to ask “How would Jesus have reacted to this?” And at still other times we will find ourselves asking “As a Christian, how do I react to this?” Just as our physical muscles become stronger through disciplined exercise, so our spiritual and mental muscles also become stronger through disciplined exercise. After all, we are to love the Lord our God with the totality of our heart, soul and mind. It may be time to open up the Bible along with a good book, and with pen and paper in hand, jot down what God is telling us. As we confront our world and the culture in which we live it is time to develop our spiritual muscles to a higher degree. It is time to actively reflect upon what is going on around us in light of our faith. It is time to stretch our thoughts and minds through serious study of the Bible and various types of literature. In them we can learn much about God and how He desires for us to live.
Just as the athlete must commit himself to active exercise and practice, so must we, as Christians, commit ourselves to the active study and reflection upon God’s word and all that the media brings to us. It is only be doing this that we can grow and develop our faith. But we are forced to ask ourselves two important questions. Am I a growing Christian? Are my spiritual muscles developing or atrophying?