Thought for the week: Let's go for spiritual growth

‘Growth. Growth. Growth.’

With those words the Prime Minister outlined, to those attending the Conservative Party Conference and to the country, the controlling aim of her administration.

The aim, we are told, is to increase the ‘size of the pie’. While that may be a desirable goal, some of us feel that there ought to be changes in the way in which the pie is divided!

Growth, and the processes of growth, feature prominently in the New Testament. Jesus spoke about the way the soil produces corn; ‘first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear’ (Mark 4;28). While little is told about the growth of Jesus during the silent years of his early life, Luke gives us this summary; ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man’ (Luke 2;52).

Rev David Clarke
Rev David Clarke
Rev David Clarke

He grew physically, mentally, socially and spiritually…the perfect combination. That summary is important.

When Paul spoke of the work of God’s Spirit in human life, he wrote of fruit (singular) implying that the various qualities of love, joy and peace etc (Galatians 5; 22-26) ought to ripen together as one.

The man who displays joy, for example, ought also to display patience.

One of the final pieces of advice which Peter offered his readers was this ‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3; 18). One man who took that admonition seriously was John William Fletcher.

That was the anglicized name of a Swiss teacher, who took up a post as private tutor when he came to England. Converted through the influence of the Methodist movement, he was ordained and became minister in the village of Madeley, a mining village in Shropshire. His ministry there was exemplary, leading the poet Robert Southey to remark that ‘No church has ever possessed a more apostolic minister’.

John Wesley would have designated Fletcher as his successor had the latter been willing. His humility was underlined when the King, no less, asked him which living he would prefer to be appointed to. He replied to the royal offer by saying that all he wanted was more grace, something which it is not in the power of kings to bestow.

While Ms Truss pushes for material growth, let’s aim for spiritual growth.