Monday, April 6, 2015

Maturity and Discipleship in the Church

In the coming weeks, we will endeavor to study discipleship in the life of the church and the responsibility placed on each believer. We must be those who look to Scripture as our guide for what this looks like.  We cannot look at those around us, in the workplace, TV, or popular culture. There are too very few examples.  Maturity is a rare commodity.

Maturity can be defined as Those whose true passion is knowing Jesus Christ , growing in Christ is their ultimate goal and their aspirations are centered around  the affect they can have on others for God's kingdom.  (Philippians 1:20-21; 3:8-10 ; 2 Timothy 3:16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 6:4).  This vision will lead us to fulfilling our corner of the great commission as we train those close to us.  The Sovereignty of God places people into our lives for this very purpose.  We seek God and pour everything we have into those he brings into our lives. 

Paul admonishes the Corinthians to "act like men" (1 Corinthians 16:13).  This phrase "quit ye like men"(KJV) or "Act manly" is written in the middle voice.  Thus, it could be said this way: "Act manly for yourselves".  In other words, no one can do it for you.  You can't be godly by accident or by osmosis.  A famous sportswear marketing slogan is "just do it".  Applying this to our topic could be tough if we don't know what to do.  We do not live in a culture that extols real virtue.  Today, manhood means pickup trucks, hunting, wife jokes, sports, beer and video games.  In other words, no responsibility, just time-wasting, and "fun".  Womanhood means fashion, shopping, exercise, hard bodies, gossip and balancing career and family.  In other words, self.  Our society calls good evil and evil good ( Isaiah 5:20). 

The Church in the USA is being taught very little about God's character other than the fact that he is forgiving and loving.  It has become a place of positive thoughts and empowering.  The man upstairs is presumed to wink at our "indiscretions" and "everyone" is going to heaven.  We are unfamiliar with God's Power, Foreknowledge, and Independence or his Holiness and Wrath.  Our worship is rarely centered around justification, sanctification, Atonement, Propitiation, biblical grace, or the merits of the gospel but it is centered around us and how "God" makes us feel.   We have been lulled to sleep and led to believe that God somehow needs us to make himself  happy.  It is popular today in evangelical churches to teach that God is in heaven hoping to make us successful and fulfilled.  Our view of God directs our passions, desires and actions.  It is no wonder that we are distracted.  It is true that Jesus said "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly"-- Spiritual life, that is. But, spiritual LIFE is not what characterizes us today.  How far has the church actually come?  The Puritans exercised church discipline on those who did not teach the tenets of the faith to their children. Today, the American church may not even know what the tenets of the faith are.  Would we know where to start? Church leadership for the last 100 years is to blame but so are individuals. We have come to a place of serving God only as long as we receive the temporal outcome we expect from him.

Our purpose should not be figuring out how Jesus fits into our lives but rather endeavoring to understand how we fit into the mission of Jesus Christ.

Immature men and women produce immature men and women, no matter their age.  I appreciate that many of you at Bethel have caught a vision for who we are to become in Christ and realize that it is our responsibility to invest in others.  On this road to spiritual maturity we can begin to bring others with us.  I pray that our time together mid week will be a time of fruitfulness and a springboard for true discipleship to take place. 

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