My wife says road trips with me are “like traveling with a human TripTik”—once we’ve driven a certain route a couple of times, I pretty much know the mile markers where we’ll find certain fast-food franchises, specific gas station brands, and easy-access rest areas. While we’re both destination-oriented people—“just press on!”—it is helpful to anticipate where we can fill the tank, feed the stomach, dump the trash, and set out again.
We who live in Christ through faith are on a road trip of a different kind, a spiritual journey—destination: transformation. We are being changed into Jesus’ image, and Peter tells us what to anticipate ahead as we progress toward our goal: “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness … knowledge … self-control … perseverance … godliness … mutual affection … and love.”1 These are the recognizable markers along the road to maturity, the places we can rest and refuel, knowing we’re on the right path. Yet they also present us opportunities to toss our trash of spiritual immaturity and let it fade in the rear-view mirror.
What does this waste of the unseen variety look like? The early Corinthian church was a veritable nursery filled with “mere infants in Christ,”2 so let’s learn from Paul as he grows them up a bit. “You are still worldly,”3 he charged. It’s a common condition, so if our growth is likewise stunted by materialism, let’s pull over at godliness and dump our worldliness there. Are we, like them, caught up in “jealously and quarreling”?4 We can crunch up these empty bags now and discard them at mutual affection just up ahead. Suckered yet again by non-Biblical wisdom?5 Let’s leave this garbage behind once and for all as we fuel up at knowledge. What about spectacularism—elevating the worship experience above the God of our worship?6 There’s a recycle bin at self-control. Are we, in the words of Jesus, “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures” so that we “do not mature”?7 Then goodness is where we replace these distractions with “noble and good hearts,” whereby we hear the word, retain it and bear fruit at perseverance.8
“The Spirit gives birth to spirit,” 9 Jesus said. This is only the starting point, for as we are born into salvation, so we must “grow up in salvation.”10 It’s what God hopes for us—that we leave infancy behind and press on to maturity. Destination: transformation.
Father, send your Spirit to lead me away from my short-sighted focus on worldly desires and ever onward in the spiritual growth you desire for me. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
1 2 Peter 1:5-7
2 1 Corinthians 3:1
3, 4 1 Corinthians 3:3
5 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
6 1 Corinthians 14:18-20
7 Luke 8:14
8 Luke 8:15
9 John 3:6
10 1 Peter 2:2