In Colossians 1:28 the Apostle Paul writes that he proclaims Christ, warning and teaching every person, so that he might present them mature in Christ. So for the Apostle, Christ not only provides us with forgiveness so that we might stand pure before God, but Christ also goes to work on us so that one day our sinful nature might be done away with once and for all and that we desist from sinning. This is presented as spiritual growth, indeed as reaching maturity.
At the same time Paul is concerned we might develop some bad ideas about spiritual growth, especially when we begin to act like such growth depends on us. Now to be sure the work of Christ to help us reach our full stature in Christ happens in and through us, and not without us; at the same time it is His work!
When we make it our responsibility a number of things go awry. For starters, we begin to try to measure our growth. This in turn can lead us to comparisons, which in turn can lead to either pride or despair.
Also when we try to measure or mark our growth we become very preoccupied with the self, which is the antithesis of loving God with our whole being and then loving our neighbor as ourselves. When instead growth happens naturally we will have so entrusted our “selves” to His care and provisions that we give our “selves” little thought. Instead we become lost in glorifying our heavenly father and in loving our neighbor.
When we assume responsibility for our maturation we then rely on our own understanding. This is defective. Instead, we should rely on God. God not only gives us spiritual birth, but like a good parent He also sees to our nurture and He does so through Word and Sacrament. Our focus must ever remain on our Lord, and receiving His Word. It is His received Word that causes growth!
Since You Asked…
Why do we celebrate Holy Communion nearly every Sunday?
The celebration of the meal we call Holy Communion has consistently been the chief act of Christian worship since the age of the Apostles. The Lutheran Reformation did not break with this tradition of 1,500 years. In fact the Augsburg Confession (our principal statement of faith) declares Holy Communion to be the chief act of worship for Lutherans on Sundays and festivals (Art. 26). (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)
You might think of Holy Communion as spiritual bread and drink for our journey (pilgrimage), for our Lord’s Body and Blood is true nutrition indeed!