I liken the pathway of our walk with Christ to a spiral because we often revisit places we have been but from a higher perspective. If we do not recognize our upward growth we may feel like we are going around in circles but we usually aren’t (unless we are not growing of course).
An easy illustration from my life is secular music. I love music. In my teen years, I had a collection of over 100 cassettes. (I know some of you may not know what this is and even fewer have ever seen one but it was how we stored music back in the day. A cassette held 60-90min of music.) I had a song for every mood and listened to everything from heavy metal to reggae. Music comforted me through romantic breakups. Music helped me study in college. Music formed the soundtrack of my life to such a degree that to this day particular songs bring back the emotions of particular seasons like it was yesterday. Then, at 21, I got saved and one day God showed me that my music was an idol in my life and I packed up all my cassettes and threw them out.
Fast-forward a decade and I am struggling in my faith. It has become clear that I may have thrown the cassettes out of my room but not out of my heart. Internally, I still crave secular songs especially since (at this time) gospel music SUCKS in variety and quality. Eventually, I left the church and re-united with many of my old secular habits including music.
Fast-forward another decade more or less, and I’m making my way back to God but this time it’s from a place of heartfelt repentance. I’m falling in love with a God so merciful that He would still accept me, forgive me, and welcome me into His arms. Now I realize that the genre of music is not important, it’s about my heart. I love Jesus and I don’t care about all that religious external stuff. Once it’s good clean lyrics, it’s all good.
Here I am today and what’s my position on music? You guessed it, I only listen to worship music. Not just Christian music but only music that leads me to worship God more. But this time, it’s what I delight to do. I can listen to anything but I only want to worship God.
This is what the upward spiral of growth looks like (at least in my experience). This will happen in many areas of our lives. Take past traumas for example. We may at one point be in a season where God is healing us from childhood trauma. Then we may think we are all good only to revisit the same trauma again years later and receive a deeper healing. Then we may revisit again but this time God may call us to become a facilitator of healing for others. And so the spiral goes. In fact, don’t be surprised if while helping others to heal you are again faced with open wounds that are still festering in your soul and have to lay on God’s doctor’s table again, all the while battling feelings of being unqualified to help others.
Paul dealt with this in 1 Corinthians 8 when addressing the issue of foods sacrificed to idols. He recognized that some people lower on the spiral would be convinced that it would be a sin against God if they ate foods sacrificed to idols. while others higher on the spiral would understand that the idol is nothing and they can eat freely. This clash of Christians at different levels of growth with different perspectives on the same issue is very common in our social media landscape today. In fact, I would say if you ever look at one of the many videos ‘calling out’ leaders on blasphemous or heretic behaviour, 9 out of 10 times it’s just a matter of people being on different levels of the spiral.
Paul gives us the way to handle it. The person higher on the spiral actually has the responsibility to meet the other person where they are at. It’s the only possible way. Those looking at their brothers and sisters up above cannot possibly understand their perspective but those above can understand and accommodate those below. When I was in my ‘listening to secular music’ phase I remember a brother suggesting that I only listen to worship music and I was like, “This guy is religious.” Yet, look at me now! lol I’ve learned not to be so fully convinced that I have THE true perspective. If I am growing my perspective will change over time, and the more open I am to seeing things differently, the faster I will grow. I’ve also learned that my perspectives will sound like heresy to some and that argument as a means to influence is usually futile. Some things you have to experience for yourself.
So my exhortation to you my beloved sisters and brothers is to keep this concept of the spiral in mind as you grow in your faith. Do not be dismayed when old issues come back around, instead see it as an opportunity to face it from a higher perspective and learn something new. And let’s not be so quick to call our brothers and sisters heretics and blasphemers ok? We all see the world differently based on where we are on our journey. Let’s support and encourage each other and leave the Holy Spirit to do his work in each other’s lives as only he can.
Love and blessings,
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about The Spiral of Growth.