Real spiritual growth doesn’t happen by OSMOSIS (or by proximity)
Say what? What on earth does that mean and have to do with the men’s conference (or any other conference for that matter)? Please let me explain. What I’m about to share with you comes from years of personal and pastoral experience. I have myself been to numerous conferences, crusades, retreats, revivals, group bible studies, you name it. I have also, as both a youth minister and a pastor, taken members of my church to the above mentioned events and have even hosted them. So know that when I say I am speaking from experience, I truly am.
Have you ever noticed a pattern to these things? Let me use my experience as a youth minister to give the illustration. Summer camp was always the high point of the year for youth ministry. It was the one event each year I was guaranteed to have the greatest participation and see the greatest “growth”. We would take a bus load of teenagers to Centrifuge and the week was packed and exciting. The young people would have the time of their life and be super fired up all the way home, for at least a week. But, after about three weeks, to about a month out, they would be right back where they started. This same thing happens at revivals, and at men’s conferences. So why is this?
The problem that I see is the erroneous expectation that spiritual growth is somehow going to happen to us if we just do minimal things. And when I say minimal things, I mean just show up with a Bible, and listen. Now it doesn’t hurt if the speaker is dynamic and the music is really moving. The problem though is that we expect those things to change us by simply being near them. We somehow think that having something spiritually rich next to us, that it will simply feed into us. That my friends, is osmosis.
Osmosis is the principle that explains how liquids move from one concentration to another. Let me give you a redneck illustration. At our house, when it is super wet outside we see a lot of slugs. Now, I’m certain slugs have a point, I just do not get it. So, to keep the slugs away, I pour salt around the sidewalk. Many of you know what happens when you put salt on a slug. The water in the slug moves out towards the salt. That’s osmosis. Spiritual osmosis is when we think that by being in proximity to something spiritual, we will be spiritual.
We grow spiritually through personal devotion and discipline. I grow spiritually when I draw close to Jesus, not when you try to draw close to Him for me. Johnny Hunt isn’t going to grow me spiritually if I’m not putting into it. Beth Moore won’t grow you spiritually if you aren’t putting anything into it. Summer camp will not grow you spiritually, if you aren’t putting anything into it. The pastor will not grow you spiritually unless you are putting something into it. This serves as a reminder and a warning. You can attend this conference and be just as cold and dead as a fish, and be no different when you leave. You can also show up and be lukewarm and hungry, and leave full. The difference is you.
I fully expect to hear a call from God that weekend, but a call doesn’t mean much, if we don’t answer.