Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spiritual Maturation: Part 2



(Make sure you scroll down and read Part 1 first)

Let me speak to you metaphorically for a moment. Let’s assume that I, a 35-year-old man, come to your house to eat dinner. You prepared a bountiful table covered with steak, potatoes, vegetables and even homemade bread. As the food makes its way around the table and everyone takes their portion, the plate of steak arrives at my place setting. But instead of stabbing one with my fork and placing it upon my plate, I pass it along, without taking one. I continue with the same actions as each item comes to my place at the table. Everyone seated at the table is obviously confused as to why I’m passing on every dish that goes by. Minutes later, as everyone’s plates are now teeming with food, mine is sitting before me completely empty. I reach down beside my seat, pull out a small tote bag and place it in my lap. Everyone’s attention is now on what I’m doing as I reach into the bag and pull out a baby bottle, full of milk. As I slide my plate out of the way and set the bottle down in front of me, the lady across the table from me says, “What in the world are you doing?” A gentlemen to her right then questions, “Why in the world would you want to eat that when all of this great food is right here in front of you?”

I respond, “What do you mean? I guess I just never saw the need to stop sucking on a bottle. It’s so much easier than cutting up all of that food by myself. I mean come on, I’d have to chew it and swallow it. I just don’t have time for all of that anyway. All of my friends still suck on bottles too you know! It’s just what we do.” Then, to make matters worse, I turn to my right and look to the head of the household. I hold out my bottle towards him and ask him to hold the bottle for me because he is seemingly the most mature one at the table. After all, he should be able to feed me the best. He says he will gladly hold it for me anytime I need him to because he can see that I’m surely in need of his abilities and assistance.


Such a scenario sounds absurd doesn’t it? Well, I just metaphorically described the majority of self-professed Christians who simply "attend church" and only follow the traditions and doctrines that are presented to them. Christians that claim to have “known the LORD” their entire lives yet do absolutely nothing more now than they did when they started their walk years ago. Most simply attend services, give their tithes and do "the best that they can”. Somehow, this has been deemed normal and acceptable “Christian” behavior. While I do agree that it is normal, it is far from acceptable when you look at the Word. Where are the spiritually mature? Where are the ones who year after year devote their lives to studying The Word and spending time in the presence of the LORD?

My friends, when will the Body see that salvation is the beginning and not the end? The main thing that being born from above (salvation) is to do is to enable you to be who you were created to be! Therefore, if you never mature in the LORD and journey to become conformed into the image of Christ, you missed the entire purpose of your salvation. It is not simply a ticket swap from hell to heaven! Let me say that again. If you don’t daily embark on maturing in Christ for the rest of your days, you greatly miss out on the entire purpose of your salvation.

There is so much more to salvation than what is ever taught or explained in most institutions. (Request a copy of the teaching, “The Christ and His Kingdom” in order to better grasp what The Word says about it.)

Continuing on, Hebrews 5:12–14 says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

The word for “elementary” in verse 12 is “arche” that is referencing the beginning or the origin. The problem I have with the majority of institutional churches and virtually all of mainstream Christian media is that it’s always the same topics, teachings and ideas. It is a process of regurgitated formulas that, from what I have experienced, seems quite contradictory to a vibrant, daily life in Christ. Modern day Christianity rarely ever moves past sin and salvation. Christians can never move past their sin because week after week pastors and teachers remind them that they’re just wretched sinners in need of a Saviour. Well, the Word of God tells me that after being born from above, I am a new creation now seated with Christ. I am now a representative of the Kingdom of God here upon the earth. I am fully aware that I am still in a mortal body that has fleshly desires, but I am no longer bound to it, for I have been made alive in Christ. For those who might be concerned that I am in some kind of denial, I'm OK, really. I simply understand that I am now more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus! With this in mind, I desire to move past my “salvation experience” and mature in the LORD.

As in the natural, God does not desire us to be born only to remain babies in need of 24 hour care. I will not stay infantile, in need of someone holding my hand for the rest of my days. It is time to throw down the baby bottle and eat some solid food! If the latest awesome work of God in my life was when I was saved at the age of eleven, then I need to assess why there is no current work of God ongoing in my life. I am well aware that this offends people. The way I see it, it is time that the Body of Christ be confronted and offended. Without it, She will continue down the road of lethargy and ignorance, lifeless and inneffective for the Kingdom of God. We absolutely must assess our spiritual growth and allow The Word of God alone to be our plumbline.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMEN!!! I am speaking to a large group of middle school students this evening about this very topic. Thanks for the confermation!

rave.n said...

Word.

Actually as someone that's often in a leadership role, the Holy Ghost has been teaching me to only speak the words God gives me.

I'm a looooooong way for *only* speaking what the Father gives me but everything's a process, right?

Anyway, something really cool happened recently. Last night at Dinner & Discussion group someone had a need to share a big problem. After dinner and before the study part they paused the group to share. Nearly immediately after he finished bare-ing his heart the eyes and heads of the room drifted towards me for a response.

But I had nothing to say. I mean, sure there were tons of phrases that felt like they should be said at a time like this but no pressing to do so. So God gave me courage to wait out the awkward silence and just pray in my head.

Well, He never did give me what to say to break the silence because someone else spoke up. Someone who hadn't prayed in awhile or prayed out loud in awhile. He admitted as much and then asked to pray for a guy he'd just met out loud in front of a room of people he'd just been introduced to.

It was so neat!

I fear that if I'd tried to "maintain control and order" by giving a quick response, I may have quenched this praying person's opportunity to take a step forward in faith.

I need a Jethro to come alongside and let me know if I'm allowing people to be to dependent on me. If I'm the one constantly giving out baby bottles. That's the meat I have to digest.

mark-main said...

Great analogy! The sad thing is the scenario you describe is not just accepted, but it is desired and preferred by the vast majority of those taking part in it.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: I'm glad that the article encouraged you.

Raven: Well said Raven. You brought up the flipside of this truth - we are not here to eternally hold baby bottles for others either. There must be a biblical standard for those that we have influence over.

It is fantastic that you have people that look to you for spiritual guidance. We must be careful however to always remember that we are simply the sign pointing to the Head of it all. We are not the Guide, but the facilitators used to get them up and moving toward the Father.

I'm excited at the new path God is taking you down!

Mark: What you say is true. It is more than just accepted, it is embraced and held on to tightly. I am continually being reminded that the LORD alone can loosen the death grip of traditions and man-centered religion.