Throughout the month of July we have been looking at what it’s like to grow up as a Christian! We have used the different stages of our physical development to serve as a template to help us understand how we grow and change as followers of Christ. And I’ll quickly give you a brief summary of what we’ve looked at so far.
To use the Biblical phrase, we were all born ‘dead in our sin’. Even at the moment of our physical birth, we had no spiritual life apart from God. And so the very first step in every believer’s journey is to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour. At that moment, when we put our trust in Jesus, we become ‘born again’ and become spiritually alive as spiritual infants.
Now spiritual infants have a huge learning curve as they really know very little about following Christ, but through the guidance of older brothers and sisters in the family of God – and of course, with the guidance of the Bible, they begin to grow up. They learn to feed themselves spiritually by cultivating those disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, and being part of a church family.
And as they do this, before long, they will find themselves moving into the next stage of being spiritual children. Now of course, at this stage, life pretty much revolves around them – Christianity is all about what Jesus can do for me – because they haven’t yet learned to give much thought to anyone else! But before long (hopefully), as they experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God, they begin to follow in His footsteps – serving and loving others just like how Christ served and loved us!
At this stage they begin to become spiritual teenagers or spiritual young adults! They begin taking responsibility for their own spiritual growth – and they also start taking responsibility for others too! They begin serving in the church – building the kingdom of God according to their gifts and abilities.
And while there are many good things done for the kingdom of God during this time, most spiritual young adults struggle to realize that God isn’t primarily concerned about the good things we do for him, but more importantly, God is concerned that we are growing into the person that He created us to be.
The outward actions of our life may be good and right – but God is really more concerned about our inner transformation where our heart and our inner desires aligned with His – where we truly began to take on the character of Jesus!
And unfortunately, for many people, it usually takes some sort of life crisis for them to begin to grasp this and really begin to move into the next stage of spiritual maturity. We really have to come to the end of ourselves to realize who we are in Christ and how much God loves us simply because we are his child – and not because of anything we do or don’t do!
A great example of this from the Bible was Peter – as a disciple of Jesus He was as zealous for the Kingdom of God as anyone – but it took Jesus’ crucifixion and his own bitter denial of Jesus that led him into the final stage of his transformation.
Likewise, for us, moving through this stage of our spiritual growth may be one of the most difficult things we go through in life, but it will also be one of the most rewarding and life-changing!
And so today, I want to describe what this final stage of spiritual growth looks like. This is kinda the end-goal of Christianity. When God says He wants to transform us into in new people by changing the way we think – this is the kind of person that He wants to transform us into!