Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we have some further thoughts to share concerning spiritual growth.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message
Some Further Thoughts Concerning Spiritual Growth
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal this unto you." Philippians, Chapter 3, Verse 14.
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast we share with you some additional thoughts concerning spiritual growth. We know that spiritual growth is the process of becoming like Jesus, developing a moral and spiritual character like the Father in response to his command to be perfect even as he is perfect as demonstrated in his Son, Jesus. As we view the problem of perfecting the material mortals from the eternal point of view, the question is how do we induce mortals to move away from their origin of material imperfection toward spiritual completion? In short, how do we induce a material creature to become a spiritual creature? Since the potential for this transformation exists, it becomes a matter of the material creature to progress to the point where she can increasingly grasp the spiritual values and meanings that constitute growth and do this efficiently. And having been given free will, how do we induce them to choose life, to choose the Father’’s will? From the eternal perspective, everything is perfect and complete, but from the time-space perspective nothing created in time and space is perfect.
We know that there are certain drives the Father has placed in us that will cause us to move forward, but these drives must have stimuli to act upon in order to translate potential spiritual values to actual spiritual values. By placing us in an imperfect environment, the Father allows us to interact with ourselves, with each other, and with the environment. And since they are also imperfect, it all is ideal soil for the growth stimulus. The Father knows that, because we are imperfect, we will at first resent these challenging stimuli to our immature sense of well being. Being imperfect, our sense of well being is associated with comfort; therefore when we are moved out of our comfort zone, we consider our sense of well being jeopardized.
This causes quite a bit of emotional turmoil, at least until we recognize and appreciate the value of spiritual growth and learn how to " . . . feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difficulties, to exhibit indomitable courage in the face of immensity, and to exercise unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable.”” We have not yet learned and accepted that . . . "In liaison with God, nothing--absolutely nothing--is impossible." Our emotions cripple and often paralyze us when in the vice of a growth stimulus.
But it is helpful to remember that when we are dealing with our young children who have not learned or who have not gained capacity to understand the things that we do to protect them, we should waste no time in trying to get an infant to understand why he must be subjected to painful immunizations. We know that when they have gained sufficient maturity, not only will they understand, but they will approve the value of the injection, the pain having long been forgotten.
When a world-class athlete is being trained to compete, his body is trained to perform at peak levels. This training is quite rigorous and sometimes even painful; but the athlete does not seriously complain. He settles down for the long training process. He may half-heartedly complain of how tough the training regime is, but there is no serious consideration given to altering the training program or quitting. When a young medical student is trained to become a physician, she undergoes a rigorous intellectual regime, one that is designed to have her function at peak intellectual levels. This is a rigorous training program, with large amounts of information to be imbibed in relatively short periods of time. And even though medical students protest at the large volume of information they are required to learn, they do not seriously think of quitting the program because they understand or least accept that it is necessary in order to achieve the goal of becoming a physician.
In the training that our souls need to actualize our spiritual potential, to reach supreme levels, to in essence become perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect, rigor is also required because the Father ". . . has predicated finite progress upon effort, creature achievement upon perseverance, and personality development upon faith." This training takes place in the imperfect environment in which we are required to live. The training is free: faith is the only requirement to complete it. We need only interact with our environment, materially, socially, intellectually, morally and spiritually. When we do so, we encounter stimuli that cause us to react; when we react positively, growth occurs. Sometimes, like an infant, it takes a while before we are sufficiently conscious to understand the necessity of the process and to cooperate with it.
The training continues long before we are able to cooperate consciously with the process. Our souls are presented with choices of good over evil, truth over error. At first the accuracy of this choosing is defective; we have to learn proficiency in choosing accurately, and this takes some growth and development. This achievement of relative maturity signals the born-again experience. And rightly so since this birth, unlike the physical birth, is spiritual. The soul becomes aware of spiritual reality and becomes an expert in operating within it.
Having become aware of spiritual reality--divine love and its derivatives truth, beauty, and goodness--it now becomes a matter of our souls dedicating themselves to actualizing these qualities in our lives. Upon this consecration, a personal spiritual helper is justified so that we can be assisted in expeditiously realizing these qualities. Without their help, we could never on our own make any significant progress in actualizing these potentials that are wrapped up in our souls.
These spiritual helpers have the ability and skill to first translate all of the spiritual influences that are impinging upon us so that our souls can grasp spiritual meanings and values. Next the spiritual helpers manipulate the circumstances of both the material and the social environment to bring about ever-increasing and complex interactions between the material and social environments so that we are given opportunities to choose the values of good over evil, truth over error, beauty over ugliness, and to exert divine love in the face of all life circumstances.
When we recognize these ever-increasing complex interactions and begin to cooperate with them, then have we moved to the fast track of moral and spiritual growth. This active cooperation is another reflection of our dedication to doing the Father’’s will, to become perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. When we dedicate our wills to doing the Father’’s will, we are at the same time dedicating ourselves to eradicating " . . . such animal vestigial traits as procrastination, equivocation, insincerity, problem avoidance, unfairness, and ease seeking."
As we continue to pursue the Father’’s will, we become more consistent in our attitude and conduct. This allows our spiritual helpers to facilitate and accelerate our training since they can now count on us to be where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there. The phrase "we are never in a hurry but always on time" comes to mind. They can plan better and implement their plans more efficiently when they have this kind of cooperation from us.
Finally, all this effort has made us more conscious of the Father’’s spirit through His Son, Jesus, and our spiritual helpers. We have become exquisitely sensitive to the urges for prayer initiated by our spiritual helpers and the urge to worship initiated by the Father’’s spirit. Both these practices provide the mechanism whereby the faith process of translating the potential values of the spirit into the actual values of the spirit becomes a part of our souls.
Such a one, if not already, is well on her way to becoming one who has learned " . . .to feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difficulties, to exhibit indomitable courage in the face of immensity, and to exercise unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable." The fruits of the spirit burn brightly in her soul: to this one she display gentleness, to another meekness, and still another temperance; to one she displays long-suffering, peace to another, and still to another she displays joy if that is needed. To all she displays love, faith, and goodness, and hope and trust ooze from the pores of her soul.
This concludes today's message on understanding some further thoughts concerning spiritual growth. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.