Levels of spiritual growth

Jesus feeds 5000 men

Most of us have read the biblical story, where Jesus fed five thousand men with only two fish and five loaves of bread: A large crowd of people followed Him, because they had seen His miracles of healing the sick. Jesus went up a hill and sat down with his disciples. He looked around and saw that a large crowd was coming to Him, so He asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people?

He already knew what He was going to do but He asked that just to test Philip.

Philip answered, “For everyone to have even a little, it would take more than two hundred silver coins to buy enough bread.” (A silver coin was the daily wage of a rural worker).

Another one of His disciples, Andrew, who was Simon Peter’s brother said, “There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish. But they will certainly not be enough for all these people.”

Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and distributed it to the people. He did the same with the fish, and they all had as much as they wanted. When they were all full He asked the disciples to gather all the leftovers. So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets. (John 6: 1-14).

The disciples, as seen in the story, were quick to say they didn’t have enough to feed the people; but unlike them, the kid offered the little food he had, knowing it wouldn’t be enough. Most of us are like the disciples; we’re usually too quick to dismiss those who come to us for help, saying we don’t have what they need.

We feel like if we shared the little we had we would be left without; however, from the story above, we see that Jesus multiplies the little we have when we take it to Him. He fed five thousand men with only two fish and five loaves of bread and still managed to have twelve baskets of leftovers.

In life, what we confess with our mouths; what we say becomes, the reality. Say two people are feeling so needy. One miserably says they are poor but the other, refusing to be defeated by the difficult situation says they are only going through a rough patch and will overcome it soon.

After some time, the one who said they’re poor will mostly likely be in the same situation but the one who refused to admit defeat will have managed to find a way out of the difficulty. So while the former is sad, the latter will be feeling joyful and triumphant.

So what determines how we view the situations in our lives; that is, whether we view the proverbial glass as half full or half empty?

We confess the situations in our lives based on the level of spiritual growth, which can be grouped in four stages, according to Scott Peck:

1st stage- Infancy, chaotic, antisocial:
They are governed by their own will and since the will from moment to moment can go this way or that, there is a lack of integrity to their being. They therefore find themselves in constant social difficulties.

2nd stage- Formal, institutional:
People in this stage begin the work of submitting themselves to principle-the law, even though they don’t understand the spirit of the law. Consequently, they are legalistic, parochial, and dogmatic and are threatened by people who think differently from them, as they have the ‘truth’ and so regard it as their responsibility to convert or save the rest of humanity, who are not ‘true believers’.

3rd stage- Individual, sceptic:
This comprises atheists, agnostics, scientists… They’re usually independent thinkers and truth seekers. They are mainly non-believers. People in this stage are generally more spiritually developed than many who are content to remain in stage 2.

4th stage- Mystical:
They are religious, not looking for clear cut, prototype answers, but desiring to enter into the mystery of uncertainty, living in the unknown.

Very few people have reached this stage. Abraham was one of those who managed to attain this level of spiritual growth. When God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, he acquiesced without any questions asked. His faith made him understand that God had the best intentions for him.

Jesus also had gotten to this level of spiritual growth. He accepted to die on the cross even though He knew it would be so painful, because He understood that was His Father’s will.

The church’s dilemma is to get people to stage 4 without them going through stage 3.

The levels of spiritual growth are not cast in stone. Someone from the fourth stage can slip back to the first stage, for instance after undergoing an awfully traumatizing experience that might leave one very disoriented, making them vulnerable.

Our life experiences affect our spiritual growth and on the other hand, our faith determines how we translate things. It is imperative we keep assessing our spiritual growth. This will help us know what we need to do differently to get to the fourth stage, which is the crest of spiritual growth.

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4 thoughts on “Levels of spiritual growth

  1. threekidsandi

    Mystics are usually marginalized and cast out. They are persecuted by the mainstream. It strikes me that a church, nor most of a community of like believers, would not actually be supportive of a person in the fourth stage.

    Reply
    1. alygeorges Post author

      I’m thinking that would be mainly attributed to the fact that they are in a stage which many haven’t reached yet, or even barely comprehend, so they are treated with suspicion, thereby shunned.

      Reply
      1. threekidsandi

        The problem with that is that it also leaves everything wide open for false prophets and false saints. To insist that you are on a higher plane of enlightenment than everyone else, and add some parlor trick or two, and you have a cult following. So maybe the suspicion is well founded, since I am sure pure intentions are rare with those claiming mysticism.

      2. alygeorges Post author

        I totally agree with you on that; pure intentions are rare and false prophets claiming to be mystics have become too many. It’s a complex world we live in.

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