No Christian is disposable or dispensable to the congregation of which he or she belongs. As we create a picture of what we want a congregation to grow into, each individual is a part of the process. There is no shortcut to maturity – as a group or as individuals – and, as the individuals commit themselves to growing spiritually, so too will the congregation.
Three Contributors to Maturity
Commitment. In Acts 2:42-46, the church is in its infancy, and there are three thousand new Christians with diverse backgrounds, opinions, and interpretations. However, these people were steadfast. They were committed. Through trials and disagreements, these Christians held firm to their common cause, and they remained faithful to the commitment they had made.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42
Enthusiasm. In Acts 5, the apostles are tried and beaten for supporting Jesus, but they rejoice in their cause in verse 41. Also see Acts 8:39 and 16:34. There is so much around us that could distract and discourage us, but we must remember that our joy is in the Lord and in His work.
“And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” – Acts 16:34
Endurance. In Romans 12:9-21, Paul emphasizes humility and brotherly love. It takes a certain amount of endurance to be patient and caring towards others – especially when disagreements arise. Everything may not play out the way we expect it to, but we must exercise patience during these times.
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” – Romans 12:12
In developing spiritual maturity as a group, we have to start with ourselves, In Matthew 23:3, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for teaching one thing and living another, but Jesus says to follow their teachings if they are, in fact, true. Instead of worrying about pointing out others’ immaturity, our spiritual growth begins with ourselves. Then (II Timothy 2:2), we reach out to others. We have to be active if we want others to become involved in our work; if we want them to join the cause of Christ. Personal involvement goes far in influencing others positively.
The first century Christians filled Jerusalem and then the world with their teaching, and the church continued to grow due to the commitment, patience, and enthusiasm the individual members demonstrated during that time. We can emulate that pattern, resulting in growth and maturity in the Lord’s kingdom.
lesson by Tim Smelser