Spiritual Growth


As we begin the New Year, we think about ways that we want to make a new start in our lives. We focus on making changes and developing healthy habits. Some make New Year resolutions, or commitments to live differently. Many of these are for our bodies (eat less, lose weight, stop smoking, sleep more, work out at the gym, etc.). I want to remind us also to include our spiritual wellness in our focus. We can make a new start in our spiritual lives, and we can even make resolutions to live by healthy, holy habits. I will be writing a series of blogs over the next few months exploring spiritual growth, its importance, how the Bible talks about it, and how we can make changes in our lives. I begin by looking at spiritual growth in the Bible.
Spiritual growth is a key concept in the New Testament. (I’ll take up the idea of Jesus calling His disciples to follow Him–spiritual growth as following Jesus–in a future blog.) Those who commit to be in relationship with God are called by God to grow into the intention that God has for them. At the foundation of this intention are God’s two commands to love God and others completely.  Those who choose to take these commands seriously, then, grow in this love for God and others over time, striving towards loving completely.


The Mysterious Magi

Most people know the story of the wise men.  They are depicted in nativity scenes with flowing robes and beautiful crowns as they offer what appears to be a small treasure chest to the newborn baby.  They are the characters every kid wants to play in the pageant because their costumes are so cool.  They even have their very own hymn!  But as popular as the wise men are, they are also quite misunderstood.
The fact is we do not know all that much about them.  We don’t know how many there were or even exactly when they came to Bethlehem.  The Bible is clear on some details: they were from the east, they were on a mission, they were willing to obey God and disobey Herod and they brought with them specific gifts.  Matthew also refers to them with an interesting word.  He calls them the “Magi”.
In order to really understand the Magi we have to go back to the book of Daniel.  Daniel lived in a time of dispersion.  His people had been scattered and he found himself living in Babylon under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar.  At that time the king ruled with the help of his wise men or Magi.  These were highly trained individuals who were well acquainted with mathematics and science which, at that time, took the form of astronomy. 



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