As a kid, I remember playing with sand in the playground and at the beach and for me I would often dig these holes and then either put my feet in them or put some water nearby into those holes. I was using the classic plastic shovel to dig my way down into the sand, but the problem was that as I kept going down the hole became much more narrow. It wasn’t a perfect flat circular surface as I kept digging, it was a small cone-ish hole.
Going into the depths of things doesn’t promise width, there is much to be found on the way down, yet it doesn’t render much in terms of reward. Often times, that’s how our walk with the Lord Jesus can play out. As we go into the depths of who God is and grow in our relationship with him through Jesus Christ, there may not be much promise in our perspective in terms of how much “ground we’ve covered”.
Even in our day to day walks with the Lord, we settle for the applause of width over the joys that come with depth. It is much easier to gauge a person’s vibrancy in their relationship with the Lord Jesus by the “likes” and “followers” they have on social media posts, rather than truly rejoicing in the hard work of pressing into the depths of a relationship with God.
Paul tells it to us like this in his letter to the Church in Philippi,
“ Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)
Paul admits his imperfection and still strives in his relationship with Christ in letting go of what has hindered his relationship with God and he pursues the prize of “God in Christ Jesus”. In order to pursue depth we must understand that the true reason and motive behind it all is Christ himself. At the end of the day, it truly is not about how much we’ve received in our own perception of success, rather it is having only one thing, Jesus Christ himself.
If the “why” behind our pursuit of depth has become to only have Jesus Christ then it must change many things about how we go about our own relationship with him. Jesus did not come to give certain “good advice” or “moral guidance” on how to live, rather he came to change how we live by becoming more like him. The good news of Jesus Christ coming to rescue sinners in and of itself changes the problem of depth from trying to impress people with religious performance to an authentic relationship with a Holy and loving God.
So, how do we do it? How do we press into Christ in our relationship with him with depth and letting God take care of the width? Here are a few practices that are shaped by this perception of our relationship with Christ.
- Read Scripture to let it read and search you. Instead of simply reading for the sake of reading, let the scriptures sink in and examine your own life. Take time and ask the hard questions that the passage is calling to. For example, how does a certain passage apply in your own life or is it calling you to change in a particular area?
- Be marked by prayerful change. It was once said of Dr. D. Martin Lloyd Jones that he was a man of, “prayer and evangelism”. Prayer fundamentally changes who we are in light of who God is. Consider that the well-known Lord’s prayers begins with “Our Father in Heaven”, the focus and initial impression of prayer is marked by a reverence to God rather than an emphasis on the self. Who we talk to and how we approach them shapes who we are becoming in our conversations, this is no exception in prayer.
- Lift your eyes in worship. Although many of the Psalms focus on lament and a cry for help, David in the Psalms calls the reader to be in awe of God in worship. Knowing who God is in his word and prayerful change leads us to lifting our eyes to God in worship because he is the one who we find worth, beautiful and our prize at the end of the goal. Let worship be guided by how big your God rather than how much your measure yourself to be.
- Be shaped in growth for the local Church family. We need each other in the Christian life and God has given us the Church to love, serve and grow with his people. Fellow Christians can show us our “blind spots”, areas in life we are not aware that are inconsistent with the Bible. Brothers and sisters are there pick us up when we feel far too deep in our sin and they humble us to the ground when we feel too good for God’s gift of grace.
All of this is simply a list of things to consider in your own growth. Pursuing depth may not always look pretty, it hurts to be told that you’re wrong, rebuke can come with sting and we often feel as though the weight feels far too heavy to carry on our own. Brothers and sisters, I encourage you look to Christ. You are not who you used to be, and still far from who you one day will become because of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Paul didn’t look to his own “measure of success” or his being in chains as he wrote the letters to the churches, rather he looked to Christ in his growth to also be his reward.
Friends, Christ is our king and our friend and because of him, we may press on.