He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom,so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
For Paul the church was not an organization but a group of people. Therefore, growing the church, for Paul, was never about growing an organization but about growing people. He says it again so clearly in today’s text:
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching every with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. (v. 28)
Paul’s goal was not to get as many people as he possibly could to accept Christ. Sure, he wanted people to come to grips with their sin problem and to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus, but that was only the beginning. Paul’s goal was to get as many people as he possibly could to the place of full maturity “in Christ.” He did not have a starting line mindset but a finish-line mentality.
. . . so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. (v. 1:28b)
So often these days, our approach centers around trying to get people to come to church, where we hope they will decide to keep coming back and through the process we hope they will hear the gospel and become a Christian somewhere along the way. Sure, we want people to mature in their faith, and to that end we try to get them involved in all manner of church activity, much of it in the name of discipleship, but we have no way to know what’s really happening along those lines, so in the meantime we do our best to take care of them and be there for them through life’s ups and downs.
I don’t mean this as a cynical criticism but as an honest observation. Most leaders of church I know, lay and clergy, feel the same way. It’s no one’s fault. It is what it is at this point in the game. Tweaking the model will not get it done. We need a new model—really, we need an old way.
What if we approached the starting line with a finish-line mentality, “so that we may present everyone fully mature to Christ” (v. 28b)? How would that change the way we thought about life and faith and church?
Domino #1/28, though we call it Finish Line, must tip well before we get there if we hope to arrive.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is our picture of what a mature human being looks like and who, through the person of the Holy Spirit, brings us to maturity in him. Awaken me to the ways I must mature, and fill me with your Spirit to this end. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1. Describe in detail the picture or image of a mature follower of Jesus. What are the top three or four qualities?
2. Who in your life and past strike you as a mature Christian? What stands out to you about him or her?
3. How might we find ways to measure maturity in appropriate fashion? Everything we care about in life, we find ways to measure. How about this?
For the Awakening,