The Power of God: The Gospel
1 Corinthians 2:1-2, Galatians 3:1-11
Do you remember those old comic book ads with Charles Atlas’ program to transform the 98-pound weakling into a muscular beach hero? When I first saw it I thought, “there really is a secret to growth!” I never sent off for the free book because I was too embarrassed, but it did plant the idea that there was some secret that I did not have to growing the way I wanted to grow. This same principle of advertising is still at work today in muscle building supplements, fad diets, and extreme exercise programs. They all promise the “secret” to growing into the shape that we want to be. And we buy the products because we WANT so much to believe their promises are true! We want a shortcut – a quicker and easier way – to get the results they promise. The reality, however, is simply this: it is a healthy lifestyle (a healthy diet, healthy exercise, healthy rest) that will grow you into that promising shape. Shortcuts won’t do it, not long term. They might give you a sense of high for a while, but they aren’t long term solutions. They aren’t long term because you can’t sustain them.
But healthy eating and exercise (and rest) are boring. We know that they work, but they take so long to give us the results that we want and it often takes changing bad habits out for good ones to get there! We’d rather have something fast and easy.
Spiritual growth is the same way. We want to look for the extraordinary! This is why spiritual retreats, spiritual help books, and special events and programs are so often promoted. But special programs and events are often like those fad diets and latest exercise programs. They’re short-term experiences. They pump you up and give you a memorable experience, but they aren’t sustainable.
How has God provided for our growth in grace? It isn’t complicated, really. He gives us His Word, the sacraments, and prayer in the context of the local church.