After all our efforts to reach adulthood, we may be surprised to realize at some point well into our adulthood that we still need to grow up. Perhaps our patience or self-control is still immature, or our capacity to forgive or the courage to take a stand needs growing. Different aspects of our soul mature at different rates, depending on which challenges present themselves to us and how willing we are to respond.

Each of our capacities reflects an aspect of the image of God in us and our ability to reflect God’s character as seen in Christ. This imago dei is like a seed, capable of slow and steady growth until the Spirit of Christ pervades our whole self, just as leaven suffuses the whole loaf of rising bread.

The images of growth Jesus uses to describe the presence of God’s rule among us point to both inner soul and outer community. The kingdom is “within” and “in your midst” (Luke 17:21, kjv, niv). The seed of Christ develops organically, nurtured by our choices for the good and the gift of God’s grace rather than by rigid rule-keeping. Christ’s “commandments” are challenges to live into, not rules to live up to. Discipleship is an adventure of discovery about ourselves as partners with Christ in the world.

Even “love your neighbor as yourself” contains a lifetime program of learning because there are so many kinds of neighbors, including the outcast, the stranger, and even the opponent. Seen as a gradual process rather than a pass/fail test, even our sinful mistakes can become grist for the mill, chances to learn. These parables are invitations to trust that grace can help us grow up, all the way to our capacity to be Christlike.

Lord Jesus, help me to trust your slow growth within me. Give me eyes to see my immaturities and mistakes as opportunities. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

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Lectionary Week
July 20–26, 2020
Scripture Overview

Jacob has tricked his brother out of his birthright and has tricked his blind father into blessing him instead of his older brother. This week the trickster is tricked, and his desire to marry Rachel will cost him dearly. The psalmist reflects on the faithfulness of God. God has made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the author is confident that God will honor that covenant. Paul builds upon his argument to the Romans about the power of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us pray to connect with God, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus continues to teach about the kingdom of God using parables. Finding our way into the kingdom is worth far more than anything else.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Genesis 29:15-28. How does a wise faith help you discern between differing loves?
Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How is your faith journey an extension of God’s covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Read Romans 8:26-39. How have you experienced prayer as an opening of yourself to God’s Spirit rather than a petition for yourself or others?
Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How are you growing in Christ? If your faith has become stagnant, what “sorting” might help you to continue to grow toward proficiency in being Christlike?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.