Picking up on how spiritual growth is analogous to natural growth, how do our physical bodies grow? Is food and water sufficient? How many of us have heard of feral children, or more commonly, the problems children have if they do not form a proper attachment bond with their mother? Clearly more than just food and water are required. Yahweh designed us so that there are other aspects required for proper growth, things like love, affection, and physical and emotional interaction. We are complex beings designed by a loving God to need both Him and one another to fulfill our calling and purpose.
A simple example of this complexity is the impact of gratitude at meal time. I read some research recently that our bodies better digest our food if we pause and are grateful or thankful prior to eating it. Another example of how Yahweh designed us to function in harmony with His design and purpose. There are practical physical and spiritual reasons for saying grace before meals. He has built better health into taking time to focus on Him before we eat. The catch is that the physical effects require actually slowing down and being intentional, not muttering a hurried prayer so we can eat.
So back to growth – if we need to grow spiritually we need food, fellowship and time. The aspects of our spirit – conscience, communion, and intuition all need to develop if we are to grow spiritually. This can happen in a haphazard way or a very focused and intentional way. If we want to be intentional we need to know what to feed our spirits and how. We need to know how to have ongoing communion with Jesus and we need to know how our conscience develops.
In regard to spiritual food Paul, Peter and the writer of Hebrews gave us some instruction on the place of scripture.
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NKJV)
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:1-5 (NKJV)
We grow spiritually by intentionally ingesting His word and reflecting on it to learn how to apply it to our day to day circumstances. The scriptures inform conscience and intuition as our spirit becomes stronger. For communion, we need to learn to sit with and experience Jesus or meditate and interact with Him through His word, there are no substitutes. In the spirit we can finely hone our conscience via the word and communion with Him.
It is important to know that while conscience, communion and intuition may be different aspects of our spirits they are intertwined. The symbol below, the triquetra, has had many uses and applications down through the centuries. One is that it has long been used to reflect the Trinity and is in fact the symbol on every New King James bible for precisely that reason. You can see in the symbol below that while each of the three parts can be distinctly seen the parts are also intertwined and cannot be separated. It you remove one part you lose the symbol. We can use this symbol to reflect our triune composition as spirit, soul and body, as reflecting the three parts of our soul – mind, will, and emotions, or as reflecting the three aspects of our spirits – conscience, communion, and intuition. We can’t develop one in isolation from the others and we need all three to be whole.