When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I Corinthians 2:1-2
The center and foundation of the Christian faith is not a set of practices, or even a sacred document; it is in a confidence, even an obsession with the Lordship of Jesus of Nazareth who we proclaim as the Lord and God. It is surprising how often in our history that the God-given means of growing and expressing this confidence have become competitors for our devotion. The scribes and pharisees quoted scripture missing the forest for the trees. Church leaders in later years looked to maintain church tradition over and even against the life witness and commands of Jesus. Still today, both we as individuals and as a corporate body are ever being tempted to neglect the call to be servants of God with the mind of Christ Jesus and rather pursue a control over others and society which enhances our power. The pursuit of maturity is not an exercise in comparing our spiritual muscles to others. Mature disciples practice faith by hoping to be filled with God’s Spirit and transformed into something more than they/we are today. In reflecting on what it means to be mature, the following has been bubbling up in my heart as a foundation to a personal mission statement. These words are helping to give focus to my “head” and direction to “hands” as I seek to know the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I recognize the following as correlated with maturity as a disciple of Jesus Christ…
Mature disciples strive to serve Jesus as Lord. Practically speaking a mature disciple’s daily focus is on living a life which honors and pleases God in all things. Mature disciples recognize that the capacity to focus daily on living a life which honors and pleases God in all things must foundationally rely on the grace of God. God is always the primary mover; the mature disciple seeks to be open to God’s grace and therefore transformed by God’s Spirit. S/he is a follower first and foremost.
Outward and visible signs of this openness to God and a mature willingness to be transformed in accordance with God’s will is often recognized in these behaviors and expressions.
Worship: Mature disciples worship regularly both individually and in a corporate body of believers.Service: Mature disciples reach out to others in care and concern to the glory of God.Witness: Mature disciples proclaim the hope they have in Jesus who is Lord in loving ways, humbly and with integrity.Disciple: Mature disciples literally seek to learn and grow as students of Jesus Christ. Koinonia: Mature disciples strive to be functional partners with others in love centered fellowship and collaboration.Faith, Hope, Love: Mature disciples manifest and express these eternally abiding expressions of God’s Spirit.
Therefore, we affirm these goals in “Making Disciples”
1) Regular Worship Participation2) Daily Devotional Time3) Regular small group participation (a small group fosters encouragement and accountability in its members)4) The expression of (a) specific “seasonal” ministry or calling. (Answers the question, “What is God calling me to do at this time?”)5) Trusts God with resources (Gives generously of time, talent, and treasure in service to Jesus Christ)
These maturity characteristics and discipleship goals are personal. I am seeking to be a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ and trust that my investment in these actions may open me more fully to the movement of God’s spirit. I am encouraging our staff, leadership, congregation, and community to engage in these “means of grace” so that God’s lordship may be more fully manifested in our lives. I hope you will join me. Peace,