The Way of the Cross – Lenten Season 2018
“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12 NIV).
“It was he who gave (leaders)…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4: 11-13 NIV).
Discipleship as Maturity in Christ
Here is a truth that we don’t like to talk about. It is something that affects every church, every body of believers. We are either cursed or blessed by the leaders we have chosen.
The solution is simple: Rather than choose leaders, learn to recognize the leaders that God has chosen. Here are some thoughts on how to recognize maturity in Christ.
Maturity in Christ is necessary for recognizing maturity in Christ.
Maturity in Christ is not only about consistent moral and social behavior. Even more importantly, since we will most certainly sin, it is about the humble ability to deal with our sin at the foot of the cross. It is about confession and repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation, despite the embarrassment, despite the judgment, despite the loss of social status. Simply because the cross, and our relationship with God is more important to us than anything else. Period.
Understanding God´s goal of reconciliation in Christ through our holiness and ministry is an essential ingredient in recognizing spiritual maturity in Christ.
Maturity in Christ is not always wise, not always safe, and, certainly, not always appreciated, even, and often especially, within the church.
Maturity in Christ is a thorn in the flesh to leaders who value peace and the status quo above the ministry of reconciliation and spiritual unity of the church which can be messy and difficult and forces us to pray fervently for one another.
Maturity in Christ is often seen as immaturity to the worldly minded because it is vulnerable, transparent and, even, confrontative by it´s very nature, as it should be.
Without maturity in Christ, a leader is, at best, a wise and able manager, at worst, a barrier to spiritual growth for themselves and others.
Maturity in Christ is about the centrality of the cross in a life of humility and grace with a focus on pleasing God above all.
Maturity in Christ engages in spiritual warfare with humility and grace even when others claim that there is no humility and grace in our spiritual warfare.
Maturity in Christ is prophetic because it challenges the status quo in pursuit of the abundant life of true reconciliation with God and man in spiritual unity.
Maturity in Christ is priestly because it labors in prayer for the very ones it challenges prophetically, including itself.
Maturity in Christ is kingly because it shows the path to abundant living in its own example of holiness, grace and life ministry regardless of popular opinion.
Maturity in Christ is about the humble confession of sin to God and one another. It is not merely apology, but rather admitting that we were in rebellion against God, or in ignorance or blindness, but still missing His mark, in our behavior towards others.
Maturity in Christ is about a lifestyle of repentance in the context of the fellowship and spiritual unity of believers, the only true marks of the presence of the Holy Spirit individually and corporately.
Maturity in Christ is about forgiveness, even when the other person doesn´t ask for it, or confess and repent of it, not because the sin doesn´t matter, not just because we should love one another, but because the payment for that sin was the cross and we accept it as sufficient for ourselves and others.
Maturity in Christ is about reconciliation and spiritual unity in prayer, worship and kingdom work, a true unity of the heart where we determine to see, value and treat the other in the Spirit and not in the flesh, even if they continue to live in the flesh. To see them as God sees them, in Christ, as their true selves, blameless and without spot or blemish before the throne of God.
Maturity in Christ is about the value and centrality of the cross which will always be opposed fiercely by the enemy with whatever strategy he can devise, within and without the church, even, and especially, through those Christians and leaders who have fallen into the trap of placing politics and power and their own personal pride and “rightness,” (often without realizing it), as more important than the life of repentance and the goal of reconciliation, which are the only true marks of spiritual maturity.
Maturity in Christ comes as we walk in the way of the cross. It is a natural result of our following. If we are not moving forward into relational maturity, the rest of our lives will not fall in line. This Lenten Season let us dedicate ourselves anew to becoming mature in our discipleship for the sake of our families and our church.
The Desert Warrior
P.S. Let’s talk to God…
Lord, I have to admit that I am not very mature. Even in the world, we recognize that maturity is relational rather than merely moral. Help me to become mature in Christ. Help me to recognize others who are on the way to becoming mature in Christ, not because they don’t make any mistakes but because they are dedicated to confessing their mistakes, getting help to repent, forgiving freely and deeply concerned about reconciliation. May it be so in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
What if he could be separated from his body? What if they could get him killed? The initial reports had indicated that even death, which had been their domain for so long, had nothing in this man. He would not die, unless he chose to or unless he was forced to.
Well, he certainly isn’t going to choose to die, grumbled Tundrac, but I wonder if we could force his hand and so get rid of him and get things back to normal. After all, it was his presence in bodily form that was the problem. Take away the body and perhaps he would retreat to his place in Heaven and leave them in peace. Or so they hoped!
He would ponder that option and in the meantime, get some of his best demons to work on this man Judas. He gave his orders and they were carried out swiftly. (Read more….)