– Akin Akinrinmade
Houston, We Have a Problem!
Romans 12 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
2 And do not imitate this world, but be transformed by the renovation of your minds, and you shall distinguish what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Hebrews 6 (New International Version)
1 Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.
Spiritual growth and transformation has an agenda (the highest possible attainment and expression of Christian maturity/ Christlikeness), which is facilitated through a supernatural agency (the teaching and mentoring ministry of the Holy Spirit), is experienced through a process (the renovation of the mind through the Word), requires conditioning/ environment for maximal utilization and expression of benefit (devotion, practice and experience) and has a pattern or template for expression (the image of Christ).
Paul tells us in the above portion of the epistle to the Romans that we are to be transformed. This is the crux of spiritual formation. Our nonstop, continual, trajectory towards ever increasing Christlikeness. One mistake we always make is assuming this is a linear, one-time process with a drop off point where we arrive and exit. However, as long as we are around here, formation is a continual praxis.
Philippians 3 (King James Bible)
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
There is no stopping on your journey. There is no slacking off allowed, there is no space for complacency of attainment, there is no “I have arrived mentality”. You keep on, you press on, you develop further, you get better, stronger, more astute, retain awareness like a top athlete who retains his fitness levels. Usain Bolt recently visited South Africa and in his quest to transition into professional football, he trained with a local side. He had a tough time getting through practice. The coach remarked that since he retired, he has lost some of his top flight conditioning. This is what happens when we assume that because we have attained certain levels of growth and maturity we should not continue developing.
Hebrews 2 (Common English Bible)
1 This is why it’s necessary for us to pay more attention to what we have heard, or else we may drift away from it.
In his primer “Growing Up Spiritually”, Kenneth E. Hagin makes the point that just as there are phases of growth in natural life, there are phases of growth in spiritual life. You cycle through infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The problem arises when you are not where you’re supposed to be or you display traits that are out of synch with your phase of growth. There is nothing wrong with having a one-year-old in diapers. There is everything wrong with having a twenty-one-year-old in diapers.
The United States of America has its National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters located in Houston, Texas. During space flights, communications is maintained between the astronauts and base command station. When things are not going well with the flight, the astronauts pick up signals, beeps, and indicators from their monitors and immediately relay an alert to base station beginning with the phrase; “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!”. This has gone on to become a global statement of distress and discomfiture. A local Nigerian way of putting it saying WAHALA DEY!
There is no problem when you display traits that are congruent with your phase of growth, but when there is dissonance between where you are and where you are supposed to be, then there is a problem. Also when you display traits of regression or reversion from a prior attained level, then there is a problem. When you miss out on and do not take advantage of growth spurts, then there is a problem. In other words, HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews referred to this:
Hebrews 5 (Weymouth New Testament)
12 For although, considering the long time you have been believers, you ought now to be teachers of others, you really need some one to teach you over again the very rudiments of the truths of God, and you have come to require milk instead of solid food.
Hebrews 5 (World English Bible)
13 For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby.
Spiritual maturity is not a function of age, title, position or your competence with church culture and politics. It is a function of an intentional, habitual, constant process of Word based growth and development. Any this short of this leads to “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM”.