Summary: This is the third of a 4 part series comparing the early church of Acts 1-5 to today. This message looks at the idea of growing up to spiritual maturity in Christ.
Pt 3 ¡V Growing Up!
Over the last two weeks we have been taking a look at characteristics of the early church in Acts chapters 2-5. Here are just a few of the things that were happening in this early church as described in Acts.
ƒß Continually devoting themselves to prayer
ƒß Sense of awe as many signs and wonders were taking place
ƒß They had all things in common and shared with amazing generosity
ƒß They continued with one mind ¡V one direction
ƒß They worshiped together daily
ƒß Daily people were added to their number as people were being saved
Here is the question we have been asking for 2 weeks ¡V Do we look like that? Is it ok with you that we don¡¦t? I confess that the truth of our lives demonstrates that most of us are OK with that. Well I¡¦m not OK with that ¡V God has begun to develop in me a hunger for more than we have experienced. He has begun to develop a hunger in me that won¡¦t be satisfied with anything less than the best that He has for me.
This morning let¡¦s look together at this passage in Ephesians and see what Paul tells us about the another characteristic that was present in the early church that I think is missing in us today.
I think one of the greatest indictments of the 21st Century church is that we are not only not moving toward a mature relationship with Christ we are not really even talking about it. We have become so content with the lackluster religious experience that many wouldn¡¦t know Jesus if He walked in the door this morning. We have become great at going through the motions but we lack the maturity to put it all together in a life that is pleasing to God. The writer of Hebrews launches a stinging indictment on the church ¡V ¡§¡Kyou have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, you have come to need milk not solid food.¡¨ Two things are clear:
ƒß They have become ¡V they were once beyond where they are now ¡V what a sad thing
ƒß They are babies ¡V when they should be grown up ¡V It¡¦s ok for babies to act like babies it¡¦s not ok for grown ups to act like babies.
What does a mature faith look like? How is it different? For that let¡¦s look at Ephesians. Paul is sharing with the churches around Ephesus how Christians are to live ¡V what maturity looks like.
A Mature Faith Demonstrates:
1) Right relationships to man ¡V (v1-3) ¡V Mature faith has an impact on how we treat each other. The greatest heartbreak of my life is watching how Christians treat each other. Immaturity still dominates our relationships. Gossip, anger, abusive speech, criticism, fault finding, hurtfulness, hatred, bitterness all seem to still dominate our relationships in the church. Don¡¦t misunderstand me this morning relationships are hard. They are the hardest thing we do in life but folks we should be better than this. Paul says walk in a manner worthy of your calling ¡V here are the words that he says should describe our relationships, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and love. If we are walking in Christian maturity this church will be a safe place ¡V a safe house where people are affirmed, blessed, encouraged, helped, corrected in gentleness, and loved unconditionally.
2) Right Relationship to Christ (v4-6) ¡V We are reminded that we have but one God ¡V one faith ¡V I believe we have too many gods today. We have forgotten our allegiance to the one God of all the Universe as we have bowed our heads to the idols of our day. We worship now at the altars of Denominationalism, Tradition, Religion, Leisure, Fun, Work, Materialism, Recreation, and most of all Self. There is one God ¡V Jehovah God ¡V and one way to God ¡V The Messiah of God Jesus Christ. In a world of pluralism that may be an uncomfortable message but it¡¦s still TRUE! If it¡¦s true ¡V most of us better get our hearts and acts together and begin to live like its true ¡V instead of playing around like 2 year olds without a care in the world.
3) Right Use of Self (v11-12) ¡V You are a unique unrepeatable miracle of God and He has a plan for your life. It¡¦s time we get with the program and become what God made us to be. God has given you gifts, talents and abilities, He has given you life, for a purpose. My children change daily what they want to be. Sarah told me at the dinner table on Wed. that she wants to be an astronaut. Her desire to be something changes daily ¡V that¡¦s what it is to be a kid. But we are not children ¡V we are adults and at some point we have to figure out what we were made for and become it. We are squandering our lives in foolish kid¡¦s stuff when God has made us to be something. The church will never be any more effective than it¡¦s people are effective at being what God made you to be.