As a preacher and teacher I work with words as well as people. In fact, i play with words and love people. I use words to communicate both from the many pulpits I am priviledged to preach from as well as in written form in articles, teachings and blogs – not to mention daily time with believers who are following the Lord. I think words are fun and they are a part of my every day life.
I recently gave some thought to the believers I know and minister to … and so far I have come up with a number of categories. I know, it sounds like I am labeling people and trying to pigeon hole them and treat everyone in a category the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth. I always see each person as an individual and as unique – a person made in God’s image. And treat them as such.
Yes, it might sound like I am even generalizing and trying to use a broad stroke to describe people when that is really not fair because the details of a life are so important. Anyone who knows me knows that I love the details of a person’s life and spend much of my time with people listening to and accepting the details of their individual lives.
But, as I work with people who call themselves believers in the Lord Jesus Christ I have seen a number of general categories of believers … have a look and see what you think – and maybe even get back to me in the “comment box” if you think there are even more categories that one might use to understand those who follow the Master….
1> The STARTER: This is someone who has just come to know Jesus. Often a wild stalion who needs to be broken – learning to depend upon the Lord and to die to self and become a bond-servant or slave of the Lord Jesus. This person has a lot of questions all of which are really neat and important and some are actually difficult to answer. Put a few of these in a local church and you just might have the beginning of a revival as they bring new life ito an assembly and actually release life because they don’t have a clue what the proper religious and traditional behavior is and so they simply live and interact as themselves – and that “realness” can be really unnerving for many older believers who have learned to pay the religious game.
2> The STRUGGLER: This is a believer who has been walking with the Lord but still holds to the outward form of the religion denying the power for life-change that the Gospel brings. They struggle with temptations and even sin and find themselves still living as the world lives in many ways. They have adopted the disciplines of the faith – prayer, Bible reading, worship – but still struggle with the basic issues of the will of man and the will of the flesh. You might say that they have “Christ in you” but have yet to reach the place where they are personally “in Christ.”
3> The STAGNANT: This person is validly born again but has not developed the necessary Christian disciples to grow in their faith. They had a valid start as a believer but they don’t receive “life” on a daily basis. Because they are not reading their Bible on a daily basis there is no regular flow of the life of God into them and thus they are like a swamp that has no regular life-giving water flowing into it and so their spiritual life becomes stagnant. Jesus said, “My words, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63) and this believer is not receiving life daily. Their prayer life and other Christian disciplines are also not properly established nor regularly active. So, they are basicly STAGNANT and barely maintain what little life they are experiencing by their on-again – off-again relationship with the Living God.
4> The STABLE: This person is truly born again and has developed some of the necessary Christian disciples to allow life to flow into their spirit on a regular basis. They are actively involved in the life and fellowship of a local Church and are connected to, submitted to and receiving from the leaders of that local church – teachers and pastors. They understand that the Christian faith is more than believing – it is belonging. The also understand that it requires them to be growing and developing as a believer – becoming more like Jesus. Their walk with the Lord is daily, dynamic and they often have a fresh encounter with Him as He speaks to their heart through His Word or through a quiet whisper to their heart.
5> The SLIDDER: This person was validly saved or born again but never took the time to develop the relationship they began with their encounter with God. They began well and were validly born again but never took the time or put the energy into developing their relationship with the Lord – their gift of eternal life (see Romans 6:23 and John 17:3). So, as a result – from their intial encounter with God they have been slowly but steadily moving away from Him due simply to inactivity and non-involvement. They are spiritually passive and apathetic and thus will become, at some point, lifeless and no longer alive to God – thus no longer able to have the assurance of a place in Heaven when they die.
6> The SAINT: Like those who are STABLE this person has put effort into their walk with God and their daily releationship with Jesus Christ. They are involved and connected to their local church giving and receiving in vital and almost daily relationships with other believers. However, more than that, they are alive to the power and the presence of God as they go about their daily lives. They are actively seeking people and places to share their faith and find or make opportunities to tell other about Jesus. They are active witnesses for the Lord and let others know Who they follow and the night-and-day difference that Jesus has and is making in their lives. They truly are alive and growing in their faith because they are sharing it with others on a daily basis. They are obeying the Great Commission, the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commandment and thus their love for the Lord, themselves, and others is growing every day.
So, I began by playing with an insight that the Lord put on my heart. This insight became a number of words and as a result of playing with those words I received further insight and even more words to help me to understand those that I work with and relate to on a daily basis in many nations around the world. This does not mean I label people but by thinking this way it simply helps me to understand them and allows me to encourage them to make some changes on their journey of faith.
Maybe it has been helpful for you in the same way. I hope so!