Summary: Are there any common goals for all believers, and for the church? There is one all encompassing goal for every believer and for every church. It is to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians: Our Identity in Christ ~ Part 16
Becoming Spiritually Mature
. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:13-16)
What kind of answers do you suppose you would receive from children if you asked them what they wanted to be their goal in life? Of course, depending on their ages, you might get a variety of replies. A little boy might say, “My goal is to be a fireman.” Another might say, “My goal is to be a doctor, or lawyer.” A little girl might say, “My goal is to be a nurse.” One might say, “My goal is to be a famous sports star.” An enterprising young person might say, “My goal is to make a million dollars.” And then some might say, “My goal is to be like my dad, or mom.”
Circumstances can change these kinds of responses. If you were to ask a high school junior or senior this same question, you may find the responses somewhat different. One might say, “My goal is to graduate from high school!” Another might say, “My goal is to get into a good college.” Still someone else might say, “My goal is to find the right person to marry.” If you were to change the situation still, and ask a prisoner what his goal is, he might reply, “My goal is to be free.”
All of us have goals. What are your goals? Does God have goals for us? Are there any common goals for all believers, and for the church? There is one all encompassing goal for every believer and for every church. It is to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. In Romans 8:29 we read, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” God has stated that His purpose is for all of us to become like His Son, Jesus Christ. The goal in life which God has for us is to become spiritually mature. This is true for individuals and for churches. The text we have before us today reveals the characteristics of this quest and the marks of a mature Christian and a mature church.
It should be said that maturity does not always “naturally” happen. This is true in people in general and in people in Christ as well. Most of us, who grow up in a healthy home and social environment, do mature. We mature physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. But this is not true for all. Some do not. For them, growth is stunted for one reason or another. Of course, this is tragic when it happens. To be forty years old chronologically and only five years old mentally or emotionally is a tragedy. But it is more tragic on a spiritual dimension. In the church of Jesus Christ, for someone to be twenty-thirty-forty years old in the Lord and still be a baby in Christ is horrible indeed. Yet there are many in churches all across this land who have stunted spiritual growth. They came to know Christ, but never progressed. They never read the Bible to obey it. They never gave themselves to prayer. They never made any sacrifices for Christ and His church. They never grappled with their own sin to forsake it. And they have not grown.
Where are you on the road to maturity? Are there any sign posts along the way to guide you? Are there any mile markers to let you know how far you've come and how far there is to go? Do you know your destination and are you determined to arrive? There are too many who settle for less than God has for them. Don't be one of them. Don't take the good gifts God has given you as the children of Israel did with the gold of Egypt and build a golden calf to worship, when you can have what the gifts were for --- the tabernacle of God's presence. Don't settle for shadows when you can have the real thing. Our text speaks of the real thing. Our goal is to grow into a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Our goal is full maturity. Our goal is to be like Christ. And in our text we see the marks of maturity in Christ.