by Pastor Tim Burt</span
Most Christians think they have spiritually grown up and become mature! The truth is, most (yes I said most) haven’t!
Every good parent wants their child to mature and grow up to live a good and significant life. Every good Christian parent wants their child to spiritually mature and grow up, not only to have a significant life, but a life fulfilling their God-given destiny—loving and serving Him one day at a time.
Remember that we are created in the Lord’s image and we are at our best when we try to emulate Him. The Lord wants us to grow up serving Him. He created something called the church—a people group who know Jesus as Savior, and as a place and atmosphere to help that happen. Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) says, “And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and He gave Him him this authority for the benefit of the church. And the church is His body…” If you are a believer, you are a part of the body of Christ. Jesus loves the church! Ephesians 5:25 (KJV) says, “…Christ loves the church and give His life for it.” Those of us who believe, are all a part of God’s church—the universal church inclusive of all believers of Jesus Christ. He also wants us to be a part of the local church—a local community of believers that grow and interact together and influence those in their world for Him.
God goes on in His Word to say that He gave and put within the church, leaders (like parents to children) to help us grow up and spiritually mature. Ephesians. 4:12-13 (NLT) says, “…to prepare and equip God’s people to do His work and help build up His church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.”
One of the ways God helps that happen, that is critical in developing our spiritual growth and maturity, is to learn to serve others—His plan, in and through the local church. When we work side-by-side and in unison with others in and through the local church, it forces us to learn to work together to accomplish His will and develop spiritual character as the Holy Spirit transforms our lives into the image of Him. It can at times be difficult because people are people—even when they’re Christians. They still at times act out with unchristian attitudes and behaviors. Why? Because each of us is a work in progress. You might expect every kind of behavior from unbelievers in the workplace because they don’t know the Lord. But you have a higher expectation from Christians. And yet, Christians—each and every one, are a work in progress with differently levels of maturity, and will at times, do or say something to hurt you—including the Pastor!
When this happens—Christians hurting you—why would you keep on? You would because you understand they are a work in progress as you yourself are—even your Pastor. You want them to be patience with you, so you show mercy and be patient as God transforms their life. This forces you to develop Christian character. You have to learn to be forgiving to overlook offences and to walk in love, and literally to develop every Christian attribute that God’s Word says we should grow in and put on. You may quit your job when you are disgruntled, and some may leave their spouse, but God doesn’t want you to quit being a part of His church and serving His plan. It is part of His maturing process for your life. And a powerful benefit of growing in this is developing an I will not quit attitude. God teaches us that if we learn to abandon the constant temptation to quit at time of adversity and remove it from our vocabulary when it comes to God and the church, we’ll instead learn to persevere and become a winner! Galatians 6:9 (NIV) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Think about this: spouses fight, children fight, quarrels happen all the time, but because you are a family, you work it out a day at a time while learning to walk in love as your goal. That’s how it is in the local church. This is God’s will. But if you didn’t know that, you’d quit and miss out on the plan that He has to help spiritually mature you!
If you read the story of Moses, you see that he had to manage all of God’s people. They were spiritually undeveloped and immature—a whiny, ornery, sometimes rebellious bunch. But God still loved them and Moses still had to work with them. There were times where Moses wanted to quit. Yet he didn’t because He loved God and loved the people and knew he had to persevere while praying and interceding for them.
One day God spoke words to Moses that each of us would long to hear from Him. He said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:17) This was the same as God proclaiming He was Moses’s friend. Then God revealed Himself to Moses in a special way. Serving God from a pure heart has its special moments and rewards from God.
Learning to serve God’s plan by serving others through the local church is a significant part of God’s plan to mature us. We are family. We don’t quit that plan, we realize that it’s God’s plan to help us grow up and mature with godly character.
We’ve all been hurt by other Christians and we’ve all probably hurt other Christians. But, like family, we hang in there, forgive and have mercy on each other, and purpose to do better as we grow and mature. We all hope to grow up together to bless the Lord and influence this world with the gospel of Jesus with His loving touch operating in and through us. When we do so, we will be the ones that benefit the most from His glorious plan! And will have grown up and become His friend!
Ephesians 4:13 (MSG) “until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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