In North America we have some fantastic teaching of the Bible. We have some seriously good media preachers (along with some who should go off the air immediately, if not sooner). We have some great books being written giving tremendous insights into the timeless Word of God. We even have some valid revelations coming forth from the prophetic side of the Church of Jesus Christ – although it is sometimes hard to spot them in the midst of the thousands which are a result, I am sure, of too much late-night pizza. However, there is apparently so little Christian maturity in the body of Christ on this continent.
You would think with all this great teaching, insight and revelation that we would be wise and mature in our walk with the Lord and that this would spill over into the actions of the Church. But, apparently, it hasn’t.
I think about this a lot. As an apostle my task is to help form a proper foundation upon which Jesus can build His Church, to teach basic doctrines, as well as defend the faith once deliverd to the saints (Ephesians 2:20, Acts 2:42 and Jude 3). And as I, and many others, do just this we were expecting (maybe just hoping) that the Church would become mature; that believers would grow up. Does not seem to be happening. So, I question why! And, I ask God if there is something He could show me to help me understand.
The other day I read a statement by Perry Noble – he works with NewSpring Church, Anderson, South Carolina – and some lights began to come on and flicker a little. I believe I have the beginning of some fresh insight. Here is what this pastor wrote that grabbed my attention:
“Spiritual maturity is not only measured in knowledge; if that were the case, then the devil would be more spiritually mature than any pastor on the planet, because he knows way more than all of us! But maturity is developed when people do what Jesus did by serving others.”
You see – we have a rational approach to the Christian faith. We want to know more, understand more, be taught more. We read the Bible to learn the stories and understand various truths contained in the 66 books of the book (Bible). Instead we should be reading the book to come to know the Author – God – who reveals Himself in the pages of the story. We read to become more like Him (character) and do more for Him (behavior).
Knowledge, knowledge, and yet more knowledge. We want to know what the future holds for us (Word of Wisdom). We want to know what is happening in world banking, politics, and the spiritual realm and how all of that fits in to the last days and the book of Revelation (prophecy). Bible knowledge for the sake of more knowledge. This does not make one either wise or mature, it seems. Just well versed on the verses and full of more knowledge then we will likely ever use in a lifetime.
Maturity comes when we take what we are reading and apply it to our lives. The Word of God is truth and Jesus said that the truth will set us free. Not just knowing the truth (knowledge) but applying, living, and walking out the truth. Someone once said that “the truth will set you free – but first it will make you miserable”. True IF you apply His truth to your life because, when applied, truth will always bring about change (and that can and usually is painful).
strong>Ah! This is the secret to not just freedom; it is the secret to maturity as well. Maturity comes from simply applying the truth; taking what Jesus teaches us through the local church and many of the media preachers…taking what we read and learn on our own … taking what is spoken as a Word of Wisdom or a prophetic word and applying it to our lives. Being doers and not hearers only. Being obedient because we love Jesus. Afterall, He did say: “If you love Me you will obey Me.”
So, dare we dream? Dare apostles believe that one day the Church will grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15b). Dare we dream that then the whole body will be able to build itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16b) and become mature and then move on to fulfill her divine destiny? Yes, I believe we can as we have a generation of young men and women coming into the Church who understand that simply knowing truth is not enough. They want to experience God (Truth) and live out the adventure – not just sit in the pews and become spiritually overweight (see I didn’t say “fat” as I’m diplomatic). They are wanting to know God and will not settle to simply know about Him. They want to walk with Him and work with Him and actually experience life change and become part of all that God is doing. They want a significant spiritual adventure and are willing to do whatever it takes to experience this spiritual reality.
Yes, we can dream! And we will wake up one day and find it to be reality and no longer just a dream. Thank you Jesus and let it be soon!