Fish in a bowl.

I read once that fish grow until they die. Sounds interesting. On the other hand I seem to be shrinking. But, I don’t want to be a fish so that settles that. I suppose that if a fish is in his natural environment, eating his natural food, etc. he stands a good chance to continue to grow. What happens though if you put a fish, say a goldfish in a small circular bowl and feed it a limited diet? Not only will the growth be slow but at some point it will cease. Goldfish don’t seem to out grow their habitat. If the bowl is only six inches long, the goldfish will be just under six inches long. They never reach their full potential without room to grow.

So, what happens, say, if we put a child in a small room and feed it a limited diet and keep it from the knowledge of anything outside its room? I think their physical growth would be hindered but I am certain that their mental and intellectual growth would be slow and eventually at the six inch mark, cease. That’s why we have schools and all sorts of learning opportunities for our children. We want their bodies and minds to expand to their full potential.

When a church is put in isolation from other religious groups as well as the community around it the same sort of thing happens. Christians and thus churches cannot grow to their full potential if they are not fed a well rounded diet of God’s word. So many churches are shut up in a small room called tradition and not allowed access to other thoughts about their religion. In this restricted diet and confinement the church soon takes on the dimensions of a six inch bowl. Like the goldfish, they can grow only so much. Like the child, they can only know so much.

Soon those restrictive and restricted churches will stop growing. Check the national stats. No long after that they will begin to follow my path, shrinkage will occur. All over the world, churches that have closed their minds are closing their doors. No tradition, or singular doctrine has the life a single word of the Bible does. It is living and active and feeds the soul.  It directs the life of the church and brings life to believers. The word, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, brings life and growth. Doors and windows will open, staggering growth will occur when we look outside our own little group and embrace the need of the world to hear about Jesus rather than our traditions.

The faithful few may think they are being helpful to the cause of Christ by insisting on having things according to their traditions and opinions but such is not the case. We have not been given a spirit of holding back but a spirit of power and love. Let’s not hide in a room or a bowl too small. Let’s join the world and feed them Jesus.

Feel like you’re in too small a fish bowl? Join us Sunday at Westgate Church of Christ.

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