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Christian Maturity

The newly born-again Christian is destined to be a world changer but he begins as a babe in Christ. He must first learn about himself, what it means to be a “new creature,” what is expected of him, and how he is to go about fulfilling those expectations. He then needs to develop the skills required to do so. Finally, he needs to take action to execute the tasks God has assigned him. If he has been a church member or attendee for some time, he probably needs to unlearn much false theology, a potentially lengthy process.

He needs to take care, though; the inclination to go out and conquer the world for Christ is too often more urgent than the desire to continue to develop the skills needed to properly perform that task. We learn a little and want to apply what we’ve learned. We do so and perhaps are encouraged by some success, but instead of returning to the humdrum task of personal development, we continue to apply our really very limited knowledge over and over again. We may feel we are accomplishing something and are doing all we can to further  God’s kingdom when we are actually employing a very small fraction of our potential. When this becomes widespread, the overall Christian impact on society is either misdirected or drastically reduced.

On the other hand, though, application is necessary; without it we cannot really appreciate or retain knowledge; but continued development is the greater need, without it our growth is curtailed, often long before we reach our true potential. We must avoid excessive pride in our accomplishments. Rather, all our lives, we should see ourselves as just beginners that still have a long way to go to become mature Christians.

Often when, with insufficient preparation, we sally out to do battle with unbelief, we meet with disappointment, become discouraged and gradually lose heart. We lose heart because we lost sight of the big picture. We forgot or perhaps never properly understood how great Christ is and who we are in Him. These things may be just words to us and not carry the deep conviction they should. There is so much baggage we carry with us from our time of unbelief and/or our exposure to false teaching that needs to be discarded and replaced. This takes time and training in righteousness. We need much time in God’s word, in theological study, and in discussion with fellow believers. We must learn from it and from them and mature in the faith even as we increasingly spend more time as the salt and light of the world we are commissioned to be.

Personal development in godliness is a life-long process, one that is never completed. It changes us on the inside and is reflected in our outward behavior. As it grows internally, we become more and more God’s servants externally. Our words and our actions more consistently and more fluently radiate God’s message to the world around us. We become stronger and more effective conveyors of God’s truth and righteousness. We are less and less affected by what once might have been discouraging setbacks. We realize that we are not and will never be perfect in this world and take our failures in stride. We know that even these are all a part of God’s plan and will work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

No Christian is ever fully matured in this life; maturity is always a matter of degree, as is effectiveness. A Christian’s effectiveness as a world-changer increases as he matures. One that neglects personal development, even to apply himself more fully in godly effort, does not grow in maturity or effectiveness as rapidly as he could. He may apply himself diligently to whatever activity he has chosen but never realizes his full potential as God’s world-changer. As in any field of endeavor, basic and advanced training is the key to success. A medical doctor that dedicated more years to develop his skills is better able to treat serious illness than is a nurse or an orderly. There are far too many relatively ineffective Christians doing this and that and even more doing almost nothing.

The great need today is for mature Christians. The most immediate and urgent task for those that have a degree of maturity, rather than attempting to change the world through their own efforts, is to bring as many other Christians as they can to a level of maturity so they can do so. In our current sorry state, Christian maturity is the greatest need and the most important work for Christians to be involved in. This can be self-improvement or work that would help others to mature.

Christians should be very distinctive individuals with forceful personalities that derive from their clear understanding of who they are and how different they really are from unbelievers or unregenerate, so-called Christians. They should possess a certainty in what they believe, what is true or false and right or wrong. They are not proud because they know they are only what God made them; but they must hold their heads up because they are the children of the King and the delegated servants of their Lord who has been given all power and authority over heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18).

A Christian individual that sees himself as God’s instrument, clearly understands the task God has given him, and has dedicated his life to furthering His kingdom is a powerful, culture-changing force. These qualities cannot be acquired without an investment of much effort. It involves personal study and interaction, especially with peers in the ecclesia assembly environment.

When even a small minority of God’s people begin to realize how important their personal development really is and begin to pay attention to it, we will begin to see real change. They will become the unstoppable force that topples the giants that now rule most of this world. They will usher in the kingdom of God, which in time, will consume all the nations of this world. The kingdom of God in the Western World is not advancing today because the development of the typical Christian is arrested at a point very far short of his true potential.