Do you feel stuck in your walk with Christ?
Does your faith feel stagnant instead of vibrant?
Have you noticed that your “spiritual muscles” have atrophied?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions then you might be experiencing spiritual homeostasis.
Homeostasis refers to the tendency of a system – any sort of system – to act in a way that maintains its own stability. Our bodies are an incredible example of homeostasis as it has mechanisms in place that ensure a steady internal temperature, a stable blood pressure and heart rate, regular blood/glucose levels, among other things. Our bodies like stability and work hard to maintain stability.
But some parts of our body’s system can only grow stronger by challenging homeostasis.
Psychologist Anders Ericsson describes it like this in his book Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise: “When a body system – certain muscles, the cardiovascular system, or something else – is stressed to the point that homeostasis can no loner be maintained, the body responds with changes that are intended to reestablish homeostasis…This is how the body’s desire for homeostasis can be harnessed to drive changes: push it hard enough and for long enough, and it will respond by changing in ways that make that push easier to do. You will have gotten a little stronger, built a little more endurance, developed a little more coordination. But there is a catch: once the compensatory changes have occurred – new muscle fibers have grown and become more efficient, new capillaries have grown, and so on – the body can handle the physical activity that had previously stressed it. It is comfortable again. The changes stop. So to keep the changes happening, you have to keep upping the ante: run farther, run faster, run uphill. If you don’t keep pushing and pushing and pushing some more, the body will settle into homeostasis, albeit at a different level, and you will stop improving.”
This same concept applies to our spiritual lives since spiritual growth also comes by challenging homeostasis. This explains why many Christians experience minimal growth and very little development in various aspects of their Christianity. Too many of us seek comfort and stability rather than putting ourselves in situations where we are completely dependent on God.
Many of us have stopped looking for ways to grow in our faith. Instead of embracing new faith adventures, new soul-feeding habits, and new spiritual disciplines that will push us beyond our comfort zones, we consciously avoid anything that challenges us spiritually. Consequently, we’ve trained ourselves to seek comfort above all else and we’ve created a spiritual system that values stability over growth.
But the law of homeostasis tells us that we will never break out of the spiritual rut that many of us find ourselves in by standing still, playing it safe, and never taking a risk.
So, what is one thing you can do to push past your fear and uncomfortableness so that you can build stronger “spiritual muscle”?
One idea I shared with my congregation is to share the gospel of Christ with one person in 2018. Talking to others about Jesus scares most of us and makes most of us uncomfortable, which is why it’s the perfect antidote to our spiritual homeostasis. To share the story of Jesus with someone else is such a leap of faith for most of us that we are “forced” to rely on the Holy Spirit to do it. This is good for us, since the more we lean into the Spirit the more the Spirit leans into us.
So, will you challenge spiritual homeostasis in order to keep growing in your relationship with Christ?
Or will you choose to remain stuck in your faith?