Often the quote, “Iron Sharpens Iron” (Prov 27:17) is used to describe men’s ministry. Iron sharpening iron is an abrasive process. Abrasion is necessary to grind down an edge; to clean up caked on gunk. The green side of the sponge, right?
But what if we aren’t iron rubbing against iron? What does that look or feel like? Uncomfortable caustic grinding. Make it stop!
Yes, spiritual growth is a process. We start out as spiritual infants (1 Pet 2:2, Heb 5:13, 1 Cor 3:2). But the expectation is that we grow mature in faith. Peter, Paul and the author of Hebrews mocked Christians who were still immature in their faith. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Do you think the disciples ever found Jesus abrasive? Many times.
At the beginning of following Jesus, the disciples were eager and excited. Their enthusiasm to be with Jesus fueled their confidence even though they had no experience or depth. The disciples had no spiritual strength because they had no spiritual struggles.
The enthusiasm and comfort faded when the disciples began to realize they are following a messiah everyone rejects. Worse, their confidence hit rock bottom as they recognize they really have no idea what they are doing. As they question and doubt Jesus and their call, they felt overwhelmed. They are not having fun anymore.
The call to become to disciples is abrasive. The call to die to self and pick up the cross is caustic. Even the resurrected Christ created lots of spiritual discomfort. He challenges the disciples to go out and make other disciples. Jesus sends them beyond their neighborhoods out to the whole world.
Jesus tells his disciples, “Have no fear little flock for the Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”(Luke 12:32) Jesus tells them to let go of their earth-bound securities and to trust in him. Even as Jesus was challenging their comfort, Jesus gave them the promises of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. While they were still learning, Jesus sent them out to share the Good News.
As the disciples lived more and more in the presence of Christ they are now his friends. They shared life with Jesus including his objectives and aims. They have a joy that comes from knowing Christ.
This joy only came through the abrasive process of walking with Jesus. Now that they are his friends the disciples have a strength and power that gets through the opposition of this world. They have a strength and power that enables them to raise up other disciples.
Who would think being rubbed the wrong way is the process of growing in faith?
May you grow in grace and knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
Your servant in Christ, Pastor Douglas