Has it ever seemed like your sanctification is plateauing? Ever felt like you were spinning your spiritual tires?
In such times—relax, we’ve all had them—you may run through the typical means-of-grace checklist, whether in your own mind or with a friend’s help. Am I reading the Bible? Praying? Invested in community with fellow Christians? It’s not a bad thing to do (even the pros do it), but maybe we’ve been overlooking something.
The Sanctifying Power of Mission
Have you considered that your spiritual lethargy might be because you’re keeping too much distance from the missional frontlines? Perhaps your sanctification seems stalled because your faith has been quarantined and, evangelistically speaking, you need to get out more.
Not only does our progressing sanctification have its place in advancing gospel mission, but living on evangelistic mission has its place in progressing our sanctification.
In his book Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels helps us on this score:
Often I meet Christians who are in spiritual malaise, holding on to their faith but not advancing it much. Bible study has become a chore; prayer is a dry routine. The miracle of their own conversion, once recounted with great passion, is now a distant, fading memory. And going to church is—well, it’s something they just do. Mechanically and halfheartedly, these people trudge along through the drudgery of quarantined Christianity.
But when these lethargic believers break out of spiritual isolation and meet some spiritual seekers, something incredible starts to happen. As they experience the high-stakes conversations that tend to happen with unchurched people, they begin to notice a sort of inner renewal taking place. Areas long ignored suddenly come alive with fresh significance. (30)
Disciplemaking: Catalyst for Personal Growth
Maybe the reason your sanctification seems to have stalled out is that you’ve stayed too long in the ecclesiological huddle and sequestered yourself from the kind of daily life on mission and evangelistic intentionality that God means for his people to experience this side of the new earth. Hybels is right to celebrate, “Isn’t it incredible how elevating our efforts to reach others can be a catalyst for personal growth?” (32).
I’ve seen it in others.
I’ve experienced it myself.
And—under God, and in his good providence—perhaps getting on board more intentionally with the gospel’s global cause and local mission might be the key for jumpstarting your own spiritual growth as well.
It’s amazing how God is often pleased to take our discipleship to the next level as we begin seriously giving ourselves to the Commission charge of making disciples.