Summary: God wants us to grow up in Him
Moving Toward Maturity
A. One of the most critical situations in Christianity today is its lack of spiritual maturity. The vast majority of believers are babes who demand constant personal attention, are only looking for blessings or are obsessed with entertainment. Leaders are satisfied to minister little more than a light elementary gospel to keep the crowds happy, the plates full, and the programs running. The general mentality among Christians is: "I am saved, blessed, and going to heaven."
B. But just as any parent wants to see his or her children grow and develop to full maturity, God desires that His children do the same. We understand that not all children move through the process the same, but all are moving toward maturity.
C. The Scriptures could not be any clearer about God’s desire for us to grow and mature.
1. James 1:4 "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
2. Hebrews 6:1 "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God…"
3. Romans 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…"
D. Now, we have said that our lives are a journey, and on our journey to a better life we must be continually growing, being conformed to the image of Christ, moving toward maturity. If we were to compare our lives to a race, we would think of a marathon rather than a sprint. But as in a marathon, many begin the race well, but only a handful run well to the very end, and many others drop out altogether.
E. God’s overarching goal is to produce men and women who demonstrate the character qualities of Jesus Christ. God does not want a church filled with white robed saints. He does not want a church filled with theological authorities or cultured clergymen. He wants a church filled with ordinary men and women who exemplify the extraordinary integrity, temperament, wholeness, compassion, individuality, boldness, righteousness, earnestness, love, forgiveness, selflessness, and faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
F. Today as we continue to explore the general subject "A Better Life in Christ," I want us to explore three thoughts about maturity as we consider specifically this topic, "Moving Toward Maturity."
I. The meaning of maturity
A. Fred Smith, a noted Dallas businessman and Christian speaker was in a conference when a man from India, a devoted follower of Gandhi came to speak to him. Mr. Smith asked the man, "What have you observed about Americans?"
"Well," he said, "you Americans are segmented. A large segment of your life is devoted to making money. You have another segment for family, another for social interaction, and yet another segment for religion. But they’re not tied together with any philosophical thread. Each of them stands alone, almost as if you are a different person in each of those roles."
"Tell me about Dr. Gandhi," asked Mr. Smith.
"Dr. Gandhi had all the areas of interest I have just mentioned, but in his life, each was an expression of his religion."
B. When we talk about maturity, we must see that it is an unsegmented life. Too often we take a segment of a person and dress it up differently from the rest, put it into a different culture on Sunday, give him a different vocabulary, and call that segment "spiritual."
C. All of this may have little to do with what goes on during the week at the computer terminal or the assembly line.
D. Few people think of their jobs, their families or social activities as expressions of their faith, yet mature believers do just that.
E. Two men were talking one day, and the one says to the other, "I would find it very difficult to talk to my compatriots about anything spiritual." The other man said, "I would find it difficult not to."
F. So as we speak about maturity, we are speaking of Christians who are becoming less and less compartmentalized. All of life is an expression of your faith. Everything you engage in, whether it be work, marriage, sporting activities, or any other thing, it is all filtered through a Biblical outlook on life and you do it all to please your Lord.
G. Christian maturity is Christlikeness.
1. It is the change from erratic adolescence to responsible manhood.
2. It is the change from living on meetings and feelings to having developed a proper system of truth that will tell you what is right and wrong even in new and difficult situations.
3. It is the change from being driven about with every wind of doctrine and getting caught up in every new movement to thinking for yourself and sticking to the Word of God no matter how unpopular it may be.