Summary: The spiritual adolescent needs to learn how to work with god in order to continue to mature in their faith.
Last time we looked at the first stage of spiritual growth mentioned here by John, Spiritual Childhood. The main lesson at this stage is how to Walk with God. The spiritual child needs to learn to walk with God through claiming forgiveness and through consistent fellowship.
Today, we're considering the second stage of spiritual development.
Stage 2: Spiritual Adolescence - Seeking To Work with God.
Dr. Rick Warren maintains that a mark of spiritual development occurs when a believer "takes off his bib and puts on an apron."
Those who are maturing in the faith are those who are seeking to work with God. But if one is to work with God in an effective manner, there are three things which John says they need to understand.
1. The Christian Worker's Directive - v. 14b
"The Word of God lives in you"
Because he has learned the lesson of how to walk with God, the Christian worker is following God's direction for his life as he is
informed by His Word.
"Those who know the truth are not equal to those who love the truth; but those who love the truth are not equal to those who live the truth." - Anonymous
John is describing a person here who "lives the truth."
Do you learn God's Word? That's good.
Do you love God's Word? That's better.
Do you live God's Word? That's best!
The reason why God's work is so anemic in too many churches is because too many who are in positions of leadership or service are learning the Word and loving the Word, but not living the Word!
Lord, saturate our thoughts with truth,
And let Your Word in us abide;
While thinking on the pure and good,
May our whole life be edified!
"The devil is perfectly willing for a person to profess Christianity so long as he doesn't practice it." - Anonymous
2. The Christian Worker's Perspective - v. 14b - "you are strong"
The Christian worker understands that on his own, in his own strength, he can accomplish nothing (John 15:5); but that through Christ's strength he can be strong enough to accomplish great things.
Someone has chronicled the growth in this understanding by saying, "I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. Finally, I ended up asking Him to do His work through me."
A consultant addressed a group of business people. They wanted to know why their company wasn't doing well. She tacked up a big sheet of white paper. Then she marked a black spot on the paper with her pencil and asked a man in the front row what he saw. The man replied promptly, "A black spot." The speaker asked every person the same question, and each replied, "A black spot." With calm and deliberate emphasis the speaker said: "Yes, there is a little black spot, but none of you mentioned the big sheet of paper. And that's what's wrong with your company."
The maturing Christian acknowledges the challenges associated with serving God, but also recognizes God is big enough to enable them to meet those challenges.
"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." - 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV)
As a result, the Christian worker isn't afraid to ACT.
Attempt the impossibilities of life.
An employer said to a new employee, "Young man, we have a record for doing the impossible in this place." The young man
replied, "Yes sir, I'll remember. I'll be as impossible as I can."
Our salvation proves God has the power to do the impossible.
"The disciples were astounded. 'Then who in the world can be saved?' they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, 'Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.'" - Matthew 19:25-26 (NLT)
God worked the impossible in us and He can work the impossible through us!
Confront the difficulties of life.
"Weak men are the slaves of what happens. Strong men are masters of what happens. Weak men are victims of their environment.
Strong men are victors in any environment. Strong men may not change the circumstances, but they will use them, compel them to serve, and bend them to their purposes. They may not be able to change the direction of the wind, but somehow they will coerce the wind to fill their sails where they drive the tiller over to keep their course." - George Craig Stewart
Tackle the challenges of life.
A man kept a six-foot crosscut saw in his garage. He kept it oiled, sharpened and ready for use. Now, he had a chainsaw to use to cut trees or firewood. But he kept the crosscut saw because he wanted his son to experience what it was like to use such a saw. The boy was pretty small when his dad first took him out with the big saw. They went to a fallen tree and dad laid the saw blade across it. With several strokes, he buried the teeth in a deep groove, then said, "You try it." His son took the grip in both hands; and began pushing with all his might but it didn't budge. With a twinkle in his eye, his dad said, "You're going to have to work harder if you want to cut this log in two." So the boy continued to struggle. Then dad put his big hand over both of his son's. Slowly the saw began to move back and forth. They cut more than a foot into it before dad decided to quit. The boy was thrilled, and ran into the house telling everyone how he had used the big crosscut saw!