Parents, physicians, therapists, and educators alike use milestones to measure and quantify growth. Milestones are incredibly helpful when it comes to ensuring that everyone from tot to teen is on track for normal physical, emotional, mental development.
Why, then, when it comes to spiritual markers in the life of faith – signposts to keep us looking forward with hope – are we as Christ-followers so incredibly bankrupt?
We really only have one milestone of the faith that we’ve identified and latched onto as a community of Jesus: conversion. (I’ve already written about our obsession over conversion.) Like a toddler’s first step – a moment that changes their identity: no longer a baby, now a true toddler – conversion is often so measurable, so distinct, so clear-cut. But then… we’re done? As a faith community, we have very little language or conversation about common milestones to describe what a life of faith looks like or what one could expect or how one might normally progress as a Jesus-follower. We must do better.
We must give Jesus-followers tangible markers on beyond conversion.
Here are a few of my suggested milestones (in no particular order), based on a bit of spiritual formation study and my limited experience:
- When I realized that the word salvation is an ongoing word, not a one-time word.
- When my life became more about who I am (character) than about what I do (achievements).
- When I cared more about God’s opinion of me than about people’s opinions of me.
- When I began establishing rhythms of work and rest that I could maintain long-term.
- When I realized we all love money a lot and gave God access to my heart and my money.
- When I started loving others more than judging others.
- When I began to listen more and actually see the plight of others rather than speaking more and focusing on how I’m being perceived by others.
- When God’s grace became an ocean in which my sin was a drop rather than the other way around.
We may not know or have an exact moment of epiphany when each of these happened. Indeed, in some ways they are still happening. But we can definitely look back and notice that the scales have been tipped in a different direction; we can tell in our souls that we are a different kind of human than we were at one time. Can we not?
Is there such a list as this anywhere? Has anyone seen one like it?
What milestones have marked your progress as a Jesus-follower? What would you add / take away from it?
Love this post, Jocelyn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this–I’m inspired to ask god what spiritual milestones he’s brought me through as a way of remembering his faithfulness! Your insights are a helpful resource!