When I teach about growing in the Christian Life, I like to use these charts:
We may work on a “Growing Awareness of God’s Holiness” by reading a classic like J.I. Packer’s Knowing God.
Similarly, we can work on a “Growing Awareness of My Sinfulness” by reading C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters or Brian Hedges’s Hit List: Taking Aim at the Seven Deadly Sins.
All the while, we should experience an expansion in our love and appreciate for Our Lord, Jesus. Our awareness of His Person and Work should grow. We should experience a deeper sense of joy, peace, and intimacy. The second graph shows the types of blockages that can occur in the process–thankfully there are resources for growing through these as well.
Besides the nonfiction books I’ve suggested above–there are fiction works that help us too. I often recommend Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit) and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.
Here’s a passage from Lewis’s Prince Caspian (one of the Narnia Chronicles) that illustrates the expansion we should experience over the course of the Christian Life (remember that Aslan is the Christ figure of the stories):
A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all round it. And then–oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.
But for all the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.
“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy, “At last.”
The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with her tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That’s because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, 147-148.