Summary: God uses the fellowship of other christians to form us into mature Christians
Habits that Lead to Christian Maturity Lent 2002
The need for Maturity:
In Romania, after communism fell, we in the west became aware of the many orphans there who were basically warehoused in huge orphanages. They were vastly understaffed. So the babies, while they had most of their physical needs looked after – food, shelter and some hygiene, were very seldom picked up and snuggled or played with. Many of them had what doctors aptly call “failure to thrive syndrome.” They may have been many months or sometimes even years old, but they still looked and acted like newborns. What they did not have is family. Or even a sort of surrogate family who would encourage growth. Many people in North America saw these helpless children on the news and decided that they would adopt one.
Christians can be the same – we might be born into new life with Jesus, but if we are left on our own, we can have that same “failure to thrive syndrome” in our spiritual lives.
This is why teaches that it is so important to be adopted into a fully functioning body of believers. Paul,says in Ephesians 4 verse 14,
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”
There was never meant to be any “Lone-Ranger” Christians.
This is how the new Christian community is described in Acts 2: (p.772) 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
They describe the new Christians as “those added to their number”, not new converts, not even individual Christians, but new members of this family, this body.
This is what John says in 1 John 1:3,6-7
3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. …6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
He doesn’t say, “We are telling you these things so that you can know Jesus like we do,” he says “we are telling you these things so that you can be part of this community that knows Jesus.”
The early Christians could not even conceive of a Christian outside of a Christian community.
“They devoted themselves to the fellowship.”