• AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Growth, John Stott, Wisdom Wednesday

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    Another characteristic that Stott sees in a Radical Disciple of Jesus is maturity.

    As many people have noted (both within Christian and secular scholarship), the church has grown rapidly throughout the world.  This explosion of Christianity has outpaced even Islam in its global spread.  Stott warns us though against becoming too triumphalistic, for this is often growth without depth.  Church leaders in the majority world have been candid about the growing numbers and also are open to admitting the lack of a strong foundation.  There might be plenty of numbers but cultivating deep roots is something that still lacks.

    A lack of maturity is not just something that can be found in the majority world, but it can be found in Western churches as well.  Paul confronted this in the 1st Century when he wrote to Corinth saying,

    But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

    These sharp words to the Corinthians needs to be heard by the church today.  Becoming a Radical Disciple of Jesus means taking on the marks of maturity, growing up from being a mere infant.  Paul wrote to the Colossian church,

    Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

    Maturity is not just about using big words and paying a mortgage though.  Maturity comes from being connected in Christ as a branch is connected to a vine and our arms are connected to the torso.  To be in Christ means we are organically related to him, and that relation leads to a worship, trust, love, and obedience to him.  

    How do we become a mature Christian then?

    Stott would suggest practically that the more clearly we see Jesus, “the more convinced we become that he is worthy of our commitment.”

    Theologian J.I. Packer wrote that we are “pygmy Christians” because we have a pygmy God.  Christians have created small Jesuses in the fashion of capitalist or socialist Jesus, ascetic or partier Jesus, and meek or revolutionary Jesus.  Many Christians have domesticated Jesus through creating a false image of him.  I know that I have been guilty of this!

    If we want to be mature Christians, then we will have to see who Jesus is with clear focus and fresh eyes.  We can be centered on him in two ways:

    We can see Jesus in his supremacy

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Col 1:15-20

    We can see Jesus in his humility

    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:5-11

    Last thing I want to point out about becoming a mature Christian is that all can become mature in their faith.  It’s not just a secret club reserved only for pastor, theologians, or the little-old-blue-haired-lady-prayer-warriors. All can become mature and then encourage others on this path to a deep, mature faith.

    Photo: Mait Jüriado via Compfight