Yesterday, I had a telephone conversation with two women.
This sounds like no big deal. It was, however, a big deal to me. These two women were my daughters. Now I usually don’t think of my daughters as two women. I think of them first as my daughters. I often think of them as girls who are growing up. Last night, however, I got off the telephone thinking about their ages (24 and 20), their maturity, and their love for God. They are two women.
Like any parent and child this age, we go back a long way. Charlotte and I watched them grow and mature, even as we were growing and maturing ourselves. We watched them move from various stages of immaturity to various stages of maturity. Now, here they are, adults.
Isn’t that a picture of a church? Isn’t that a picture of ministry with a church? A church is a hodge-podge collection of human beings. A church typically is composed of people who are every kind of size, shape, and temperament. Some of us grew up in Christian homes with a rich heritage of faith behind us. Others of us grew up in homes where faith in God was not a part of daily life. A church consists of singles, married people with children, and others who have no children. We are old, young, and in between. Some of us have more money than others. Some of us are struggling financially. A church consists of men and women who love to think, some who love to act, and still others who love to meditate and reflect. Some of us are more mature than others. We are a church.
I have been a minister for almost fourteen years with one church. That is amazing when I think about it. It seems amazing because it doesn’t seem like fourteen years. Hopefully, we as a people who make up this church are maturing in Christ. That ought to be true of all churches.
God has a way of taking all of us in a church and creating a new people. Ideally, we are becoming more mature than what we were yesterday. As we yield to him, we are becoming something different. We are becoming someone different. Christ is becoming more fully visible in our lives as we are being transformed into his likeness. This transformation is not the result of trying harder or doing better in our walk with him. This is the work of the Spirit that comes about as we yield ourselves to his desires (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).
There is something terribly wrong when a Christian can say that he or she has experienced no change over the past decade. Something is terribly wrong when a Christian is stuck in a state of perpetual immaturity. Something is wrong when a man or woman has the same ungodly attitude that he or she had a dozen years ago. Yet, I have heard some people say, "Well, that’s just the way he is." That may be the way he is but let us not act as if a person stuck in such spiritual immaturity is okay.
I loved my daughters when they were in junior high school (what interesting years…). Yet, something would be very, very wrong if these two 20- and 25-year-old women were stuck in the emotional level of a junior high school student. Something would be very wrong had they never matured beyond those years.
What happens to a church when we are not maturing in Christ? What becomes of a church that remains in perpetual immaturity?