Summary: If Christ physically walked down the aisle of your church would He say "good and faithful servants"? Paul outlines five pillars of a spiritually healthy church that every church needs to put into practice!
The Five Pillars of a Mature Church
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you.
Living in a day and age when most people no longer trust organized religion either due to sexual and financial scandals of its leaders or due to the constant infighting and conflict amongst its members, it is difficult for churches to keep their doors open. Using numeric growth and financial viability as litmus tests of “success,” many churches have chosen to “sell” their version of the truth by watering down the message to make it more palatable to society. While this strategy attracts Christian “pretenders” and those whom are “lukewarm,” whom amongst us truly wants Christ to see your church as being so vile that He spits us out of His mouth? Wouldn’t it be nice to have Christ physically walk down the isle of your church and state that He has heard of your faith and the treasures you are storing up in heaven? For today’s church to live a life worthy of the calling they have received the focus must not be just on numbers and finances but primarily on spiritual maturity in the eyes of Christ! This sermon is going to outline five pillars of church maturity as Paul outlines in Ephesians 4:1-16 in the hope that this might inspire you to take them back to your church leaders and have them implemented for the glory and honor of God!
Pillar 1: Remember Your Calling
To become a spiritually mature church in the eyes of Christ begins with a remembrance and appreciation of one’s calling. “To live a life worthy of the calling” implies that there are standards or expectations that God has for His people that are to be firmly rooted in a person the moment they accept His gracious gift of salvation. Drunk with sin (James 1:14) we used to think the broad path (Matthew 7:13) was a utopia of pleasure but deep inside our souls we were broken, constantly yearning to know He whom created us! It was God who called us from being the gossips, God-haters, insolent, arrogant ones (Romans 1:30) who felt the cross was foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18), from “darkness to the wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9)! It is in this depravity that we as Gentiles were called to be His children (Ephesians 1:4-5). What we were incapable of doing, seeking and following God, was accomplished through His grace and our faith in a risen Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). Spiritual maturity inside of the church begins with its members remembering that in the face of such a great salvation God expects them to honor His name by following the footsteps of Christ and by doing the works He has prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10)!
Pillar 2: Imitate the Character of Christ
If a church is to obtain spiritual maturity, then its members must strive to obtain the character of Christ! Knowing that we were purchased at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) should compel us to no longer conform to the ways of this world (Romans 12:2) that left us “spiritually bankrupt, emotionally warped, and morally naked.” God expects those “have been united with Christ in His resurrection and exaltation” (Ephesians 1:20-22) to put off the old self that was “being corrupted by their deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22-24) and invite Him to transform the attitudes of their minds to focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). While this process of becoming more like Jesus begins when He enters a person’s heart, obtaining the character of Christ is an ongoing process of surrendering one’s sinful desires while constantly battling the powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12)! The spiritual maturity of the church is dependent on its members embracing the power of Jesus to change and sanctify their character so that they might become like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (4:2)
Paul lists five key “foundational stones” or pillars of our character that needs special attention if we are to be like Christ. First, those who were saved not by works but at a price are to put off their pride and self-assertion and embrace a humble attitude of serving God and one another out of love (Philippians 2:3). Second, to be like Jesus one must put off the worldly inclination to aggressively insist on getting one’s way and put on a genuine desire to gently look out for the interests of others. Third, to strive to be like Jesus, whom was “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29), is to be accomplished by being patient with the “shortcomings” of those around us. Fourth, to be more like Christ one must put off the desire to abruptly tear down another person (especially one’s enemies) and choose to love and forbear them like God has done with His people (Romans 2:4, 9:22; 1 Timothy 1:16). And last and most important, the crowing virtue that we are to emulate from Christ’s character is that of love. We are to constantly remember that without love for God and one another our service to Him is nothing more than a “resounding gong or clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)!