Notice the Effects
In 2013 a group of five ninth-grade girls in Denmark noticed a peculiar coincidence. On the nights they plugged their cell phones in to charge next to their beds, they seemed to be more distracted at school the following day. This observation prompted the girls to wonder what other consequences their cell phones might cause. The girls decided to test their theory with a school science project.1 Could cell phone radiation really be to blame for their lack of concentration? Should they change the ways they charged and used them? The teenagers didn’t have the time, experience, or funding to fully test their theory on human brains, so they settled on examining the effects of cell phone radiation on plants.
In two rooms, the girls placed six trays of lepidium sativum, a fast-growing herb also known as garden cress. In one room, they placed two internet routers designed to emit roughly the same amount of radiation as ordinary cell phones. In the second room, the garden cress remained radiation-free. Over the next twelve days, they watched, measured, and snapped pictures documenting each notable result. By the end of their experiment, the girls’ seed trays looked markedly different from one another. Despite the fact that the seeds are known to be easy to grow and tolerant of any climate, the ones left next to the routers hadn’t grown at all. Meanwhile, the radiation-free plants next door continued to thrive and grow.
The girls’ experiment garnered top honors in a regional science competition, the interest of a Swedish neuroscience professor, and worldwide attention from news outlets and the science community at large. If radiation from a router could inhibit the growth of a plant, what did this mean for the human brain? What could these two trays of seeds—one green and healthy and the other failing to thrive—teach the world? Could their findings help protect a generation of growing tech-lovers? I suppose we will have to wait and see.
Examine Your Growth
What do Wi-Fi signals and garden cress seeds have to do with your growth in godliness? Both use life and growth as the measure by which they evaluate health. Both see failure to grow as an indicator of trouble.
Growth always occurs in the lives of those who have been granted new life in the name of Jesus.
In the Denmark girls’ experiment, an outside source prevented the growth of those garden cress seeds, even though they couldn’t make any conclusive determinations. Unlike our Denmark friends’ science project, your spiritual life doesn’t need to suffer from the failure to draw conclusions. Jesus explains the source of your growth in John 15:4–5:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If you aren’t growing in godliness, this is a sign of trouble. At the root of failure to grow in godliness is always the spiritual problem of failure to live in Christ. If you want to grow, you’ll need what Martin Luther referred to as fides viva—living faith. Pastor R. C. Sproul expands on this living faith:
It is a faith that immediately brings forth the fruits of repentance and righteousness. If we say we have faith, but no works follow, that is clear evidence that our faith is not genuine. True faith always produces real conformity to Christ. If justification happens to us, the sanctification surely will follow. If there is no sanctification, it means that there never was any justification.2
Growth always occurs in the lives of those who have been granted new life in the name of Jesus. If you have the desire to know God and the longing to be more like Christ, you can thank God for planting the seed of faith in your heart (Mark 4:14), keeping it safely in the good soil, and growing and producing fruit. And while only God can give the growth (1 Cor. 3:7), you have a part in the process! You are called to partner with him by responding in faith. Mark 4:20 says the seeds “that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
In the life of a Christian, fruit is the sign of life, a demonstration of the Spirit’s work-in-progress. As you grow in godliness, your life will be increasingly filled with the fruit of the Spirit. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” will all be yours (Gal. 5:22–23). If you have faith even the size of the smallest mustard seed, when it is sown in the good soil, it will certainly grow up “and become larger than all the garden plants and put out large branches” (Mark 4:32). The increasing “fruit of righteousness” (Phil. 1:11) that comes through Jesus Christ will be a noticeable change, and God will use the fruit in your life to serve others with the gospel, changing lives and multiplying his kingdom (Col. 1:5–6).
Examine your life. Is there fruit? How would you describe your growth in godliness? Are your seeds of faith dead as a doornail, like the Wi-Fi-poisoned lepidium sativum? Or is your faith fides viva, a living faith—growing up and increasingly yielding more and more fruit every day?
1. Daniel Bean, “Can WiFi Signals Stunt Plant Growth?,” ABC News online, May 24, 2013, https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/can-wifi-signals -stunt-plant-growth/blogEntry?id=19251950/.
2. R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Sanford, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2010), 202.
This article is adapted from Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ by Lindsey Carlson.
Christian teenagers attempting to grow in godliness tend to face a series of unique challenges.
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