There should be a real concern that there is a lack of progress in the Church today. Consider it for a moment: Are you in a more mature position with Jesus now than you were a year ago? Many of us will answer that question far too quickly without giving it any serious thought. There are far too many people chasing after emotional experience and failing to actually grow in Jesus. Many people do not even realize that spiritual maturity is a goal. They meet Jesus, have their sins forgiven and think it's a done deal.
How do you feel about that? Are you aware that there is more than the cross to this walk with Jesus? The cross is the beginning place and remains part of everything that follows but there is plenty to follow beyond the cross. There is the resurrection. The apostle Paul expressed this:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)
I want to know Jesus. I want to know more of him, to understand more, to be changed by my knowing, to become like him. Every day is a day of learning, growing, changing. Sometimes it comes through the study of the Word and sometimes it comes through the Spirit teaching me in the circumstances of my day. Regardless of how, maturity happens every time I make a decision for Jesus, when I reject the things that do not belong to him, and declare to myself that Jesus is my everything. There may be emotions attached to it but it is not an emotional decision. It is an insisting that Jesus is the priority over everything. This opens up a whole new world of mature decision making.
Maturity is an important matter right now because we have a generation being raised on the idea of being lost in an emotional response to God. I have no problem with an emotional response, been there many times myself, but emotional responses without maturity leads to emotional see-saws; up one moment and down the next. There is a beauty in the function of the Body of Christ to bring us into spiritual maturity:
It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Some people mistake this to mean knowledge but notice what the servant-leaders' role is: to prepare God's people for works of service. Maturity happens when we take God's Word and put it into practice. I get concerned when Christians attend tons of seminars, teachings, schools of prophets, getting Spirit filled again and again, yet have no impact on the unsaved in their lives. That's not maturity, it's sensationalism.
Many of us should be much further along in our walk with Jesus than we are. Some of us are chasing after the wrong things, wanting to be fed all the time instead of maturing to the point of being able to feed others. Some people would say that they don't want that kind of responsibility and refuse to grow up. Others had that problem too:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (Hebrews 5:11-12)
It's time for us to grow up. For the next little while I am going to teach from 1 Corinthians because it is a great lesson in maturity, the basic foundation and what we need to progress. The Corinthians were a church that had it all, tons of talents, all the gifts of the Spirit, and yet they had nothing because they lacked the maturity to know how to use these tools. I am looking forward to this because I want to make sure that my foundation is right, to support my life of faith, so hope will permeate my very being. Joy, everlasting joy, is found in this place of hope. It is time to make some progress in this walk as we move toward the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus. Come grow with me.