Previously on The Journey into Growth…
Part 4: Process—Dimensions of Growth
How about a re-cap?
Then, in Part 2: A Question of Destiny, we considered the problem of purpose. In Romans 8:28-29 and 1 John 3:1-3 we begin to catch a glimpse of God’s vision for the believer. And boy is it amazing: We’re going to be just like Jesus! But how?
In Part 3: Process—The Model for Growth, we see that Jesus is far more than the model for the results of our growth (that we’re going to be like Jesus). We see that he is, in fact, the model for the process of our growth as well. From Hebrews 5:7-9, we learn the mind-blowing truth that Jesus himself was a learner (in this case, he had to learn obedience). And we read Philippians 2:6-8, which explains how Jesus, as God, “emptied himself” and became human in every way, except he didn’t sin. And that isn’t even the most shocking part…
In our last installment, Part 4: Process—Dimensions of Growth, we see the dimensions of Jesus’s own growth, from the time he is an infant to being a 12-year old, to being an adult. In doing so, we cannot help but be confronted by the human limitations placed on him as Jesus walked this earth. We looked closely at the story of the boy Jesus in the Temple in Luke 2:41-52, seeing that there were some things he didn’t yet know, and that it was not time yet for him to leave his earthly parents and be on his own.
And then there was the last verse, Luke 2:52, in which we see the dimensions of growth laid out for us:
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Here is how I’ve tried to define these dimensions, putting them in as practical terms as I can:
- Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do and doing it.
- Stature, to a child, is how big his body is, and how skillfully he uses it. It is his interface with his world. It is what people see when they look at him. His body is what he uses to effect his world. Adults, of course, aren’t usually looking to grow any bigger, but their bodies are still the only thing the world sees when it looks at them. And it takes an incredible amount of physical skill just to survive in that world, let alone thrive.
- Favor with God is having a healthy, intimate relationship with the Father. This relationship is made possible only through the work of Jesus himself.
- Favor with men is having healthy, appropriately intimate relationships with other people.
And, of course, we saw that we could lay these dimensions out graphically, with the inside dimensions (wisdom, stature) represented by small and large circles, and the vertical (favor with God) and horizontal (favor with men) dimensions represented by intersecting lines.
At that point we can begin to map out a strategy for building intentionality into our lives, actively cooperating with God’s vision for us, and growing daily more like Jesus in all these dimensions.
But first, there is a point we might miss if don’t stop for a moment and focus on it. And it’s really the key to the whole thing.
It begins as a question about the diagram we drew in our last installment:
Where is Jesus?
Remember I said that the vertical line represents our relationship with God? That the concept of a “vertical relationship” underlines the fact that God is God and we’re not? He’s up there and we’re down here?
So, if Jesus is God (and he’s returned to heaven), he’s up there, right? I’m down here and he’s up there. Right?
What about the fact that he’s totally human, with all the limitations that come with being human? That would put him on the horizontal line with the rest of us, wouldn’t it?
Could it be he’s both on the vertical and on the horizontal?
Which of course, would put him…
Smack in the center!
Guess who else is there with him?
We’ll save that for our next outing. In the meantime, you can catch a sneak preview by looking up this verse: Colossians 3:1-4. Talk about mind-blowing!
Think about it…
In what we’ve explored so far, what is the one dimension of your life you’d most like to see a change in?