"we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods...." [Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4:38:4, in ANF 1:522.]What I'm about to say might not have been Irenaeus' point, but I'll say it because I think it's true anyway...
These days, I think we don't appreciate spiritual growth nearly as much as we could, or perhaps should. There are many ways in which Christianity is significant for people.
It can be something that meets my needs. It becomes for me. I am hurt, I am fearful, I feel sinful and bad and I find acceptance and love from God. This can be true and important and good.
It can be about what I do for others. Something from me. I help others, I show compassion, I give my time and energy and friendship and love for the sake of those around me. This also can be true and important and good.
But I have recently been thinking that Christianity is also about who I am. Something in me. It's about my very person, my thoughts, my emotions, my heart - and all those things about who I am that I just can't express.
I think this because I see many people (Christians and others, and myself at times) whose hearts are small, timid, and weak. We live in a generation of lonely people. People who are not satesfied and not able to understand why. People who can hardly handle being alive and scarcely manage being in love. People think it's acceptable that they can be this way, because they have love and acceptance and care from God, and with luck other people. And it is acceptable...
But we could be so much more than small, timid, weak spiritual infants. And I think God wants us to be more, to be more mature, because it's better. I think he wants us to help us become people with hearts that are big, bold and strong. Not always remaining as children - with childish minds and feelings and problems - but becoming fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers... The wise old men and women we look up to because they are people who have learned to be people well.
This ties in with my previous post about salvation. I don't think God wants to save us so that we can merely be forgiven of our shortcomings and not feel so bad about our faults. He surely doesn't want to leave us as we are - children. He wants us to grow. You could even say he's saved us from the death of not growing into life... because to live is to grow. He wants us to transform us, to teach us the art of living. The skill, the discipline, the art, and the beauty of being people who are people well, people who are truly alive. He wants to give us the wonderful pleasure of becoming persons with hearts that aren't immature, but have become and continue to become like God's heart. Because I think it is wonderful that in this way we should become, so to speak, little "gods".
I want to be one.