Growing spiritually is a never-ending process. Citing Enoch’s exemplary life, this Back To Basics article dwells on the need for a goal and a firm commitment to live as Christ wants us to live as the keys to “becoming”.
An infant grows into a cuddly baby who grows into a toddler who becomes a wide-eyed first grader who grows into a teenager who becomes a young adult and so forth. In this process of life we can easily identify what stage one is in and we know more or less clearly where we have been (children) and where we will end (senior citizens).
The stages of growth in our spiritual life are less easy to identify. Some people gauge their growth on the basis of their sacramental life – baptism, confirmation, reconciliation, the Eucharist, marriage or holy orders, and anointing of the sick. Others base their degree of growth on how many spiritual gifts they have received, or how many parish organizations they are active in, or how philanthropic they are, or the number of novenas they have recited, or how many years they have been in the renewal.
What is Our Goal?
No one denies that “yes, we are growing.” But how are we growing? Downwards, sideways, upwards, straight ahead, around and around in circles …?
Perhaps we should rephrase the common question of “How is your spiritual growth?” into the more accurate one “What are you becoming?” ‘Growing’ denotes a series of changes without really specifying what kind of change. ‘Becoming’ zeros in on the end result of growing, on the goal in our Christian life.
St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews identifies the Christian’s goal and instructs us to “rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2) Jesus puts it even more strongly in Matthew 6:33. We have to get our priorities in order. Our goal must be to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness before anything else.
All of us are going to be tomorrow what we are becoming today. A child does not enter the 10 km fun run the day after he takes his first step. The competent businessman does not hire a trainee today and make him the CFO, chief finance officer, tomorrow. We do not suddenly become something in our seventies that we have not been moving toward in our forties and fifties. No one becomes a mature Christian overnight.
Enoch, A Man Who “Became”
Only seven verses in the Bible are devoted to Enoch and yet he merits mention as one of St. Paul’s heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:5). He and Elijah were the only ones mentioned in the Bible to have been transported directly into the presence of God without passing a death experience. Enoch definitely had his life goals set right!
Firstly, we know that Enoch was a man who walked with God (Gen. 5:24), not once, not once in a while. He walked with God until he was taken up by God. Walking with God means to be constantly aware of God’s presence in our life, listening to Him speaking to us through His Word and His Church, and responding to Him in prayer and action.
Enoch please God (Heb. 11:5). As we read through this chapter on faith, it becomes clear that pleasing God is, to a large extent, obeying God and following His will for us. From the examples of David and Solomon, we can see the difference between obedience and disobedience. Solomon received God’s blessing but later on deliberately disobeyed God, married many foreign women and built temples to other gods causing God to become angry with him (1 Kings 11:1-13). David, on the other hand, recognized his sin, pleaded for forgiveness and strove even harder to obey God.
Thirdly, Enoch served God as a spokesman for God among the ungodly people of his day (Jude 14-15). The Bible doesn’t put a time span on his service so we can assume that he served God until he was taken up by God. The psalmist tells us that the righteous shall flourish and bear fruit even in old age (Psalm 92:14-15. None of us should ever consider ourselves finished in our service to the Lord.
What Would Jesus Do?
Charles M. Sheldon in his thought-provoking and inspiring book In His Steps (Barbour and Company, Inc., Ohio, c1985) tells about what happened when some Christians in a local church made a unique pledge. For an entire year they vowed not to do anything without first asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” As God revealed the answers to them, they agreed to follow His will even if doing so would bring them conflict, suffering, or disruption of their comfortable lives.
As the businessmen, newspaper men, professionals and others in the community reviewed their work every day in the light of what Jesus would do, they changed policies and business strategies. They redirected their lives, money, talent, career and influence to Christ. And many things happened … and kept on happening as the presence of the Holy Spirit moved powerfully in that community.
As members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, we have also made our commitment to the Lord, believing that following the white card commitment will help our spiritual growth. Yes, committing to certain Christian practices is good. But as we grow, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we becoming?” Can we say that we have become new creations in Christ, that “the old things have passed away?” (2 Cor. 5:17) Are we becoming men and women who walk with God, who please God and who serve God as did Enoch? Are we willing to do what Jesus would do in every situation? Are we willing to follow in His steps, regardless of what others might do or advise us to do?
As another year of the BCBP passes, we could also ask, “What is the BCBP becoming?” And, “As a Christian and member of the BCBP, what am I becoming?” –Nancy R. Catan