Growing

Most news stories during this pandemic seem to focus on how bad things are. Every hour of every day seems to bring more gloomy news. And I can understand it, because COVID-19 is not just a local issue. It’s a worldwide pandemic.

While I don’t want to downplay the reality we are living in, I’m also a positive person. God wired me to look on the bright side and see the silver lining.

So, in light of the new “normal” of social distancing and self-quarantining, what are some of the positives that are happening? Just as spring brings on new growth, so our new reality brings new opportunities.

The other day I was studying the life of Jesus and read Luke 2:52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

For some reason, the areas in which Jesus grew jumped off the page.

I began to think about how Jesus grew in those four arenas—in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with men—and how I might be able to grow in them today.

It only seems to make sense that if those categories were good for Jesus to grow in, then they are good for me as well. So, in light of this season, how might we grow as a young Jesus grew?

In wisdom

The Bible first says Jesus grew in wisdom. Wisdom is defined as “knowledge of what is true, coupled with good judgment.” Jesus learned about different things, but He also paired that knowledge with good judgment.

For a lot of us today, we have more time in our schedules than we have had in the past. It seems like it would be wise to learn something new. Or we might be able to learn how to do something in a way we’ve never done in the past.

Before the coronavirus hit, most of my meetings were held in person. Today they are 100% on the phone or through video chatting. I had to learn a new way of doing meetings.

What are you learning?

In stature

The second area of growth for Jesus was stature. For most, we won’t get any taller while sheltering at home, but we also want to avoid growing wider during this time.

While our normal routine is interrupted, it’s not an excuse to become a couch potato and let ourselves atrophy physically.

What can you do to keep yourself in good shape? It probably looks different than it did in the past. Maybe it’s a walk around the neighborhood or to the mailbox. Maybe it’s a few laps around the house or up and down the stairs.

Maybe you join one of the many physical challenges online. Whatever it is, it’s an important area of opportunity.

How are you taking care of yourself physically?

In favor with God

Thirdly, Jesus grew in His relationship with God. Now, He was God’s Son, but that doesn’t let us off the hook.

One of Southeast’s mantras is to “be the branch.” It is taken from John 15. Here, Jesus encourages us to be a branch that is attached to the True Vine and produces fruit, which is the good qualities and deeds that come from connection with Him.

How are you connecting with Jesus each day? It’s through this connection that we can bear fruit. And do you know what Jesus says happens to branches that don’t bear fruit? They get cut off, gathered up and burned.

How are you growing in your connection with God?

In favor with men

Lastly, Jesus connected with other people relationally. The weird thing about working from home is that while I’m disconnected physically with everyone outside of my immediate family, I’m actually having many more conversations with people. And those conversations aren’t just about news, weather and sports. Almost every exchange has at least one personal topic that we take time to discuss.

How are you connecting with others?

It’s pretty certain that when we come out of this season, the world will be a whole lot different. The big question we have to ask ourselves is, will we be different? Will we be more like Jesus? For a list of resources to help you and your family grow, visit www.southeastchristian.org/resources.

Michael Kast is campus pastor of Southeast’s Elizabethtown Campus.