Maturity in Christ
In the movie, “The Intern” with Robert De Niro and Ann Hathaway, De Niro has the title role. His character’s name is Ben Whittaker, and he’s a retired, well-off widower in Brooklyn who’s bored with the relative inactivity of his current, pleasant mode of living. So he applies for a position in an “Intern Program” at a start-up e-commerce, mail order, clothing business called “About the Fit.” His role calls for him to interact with colleagues 40 years his junior. He is 65. They are 22. He learns about the “Weird Things These Kids Do Today.” He is thrown into culture shock. He questions the way they work, live and socialize - most it online and all of it for everyone to see. As the young interns gather for their work most are wearing very casual clothes like t-shirts and jeans. Whittaker rants, “Does no one know how to tuck in a shirt anymore?” The young company founder played by Hathaway laments in one scene how there are no good men anymore. She says, “They are boys. Wearing boys clothes, but with adult jobs. What happened to gentlemen and handsome stars like a young Paul Newman, a classy Carry Grant or a Robert Redford lead?” As I approach my mid 40s I notice that we have grown boys, who don’t know what it means to be a gentleman? We have girls who still think it is cute to be clueless, when they are closer to menopause than college. I think you can agree with me, when I say that we have lost a little polish and refinement in our daily lives. In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul shares the purpose for which he worked hard, namely, to present every person “complete/ mature/developed/recreated” in Christ. We all should aim at becoming mature in Christ and we should help others grow to spiritual maturity also. What does that look like? Maturity in Christ means developing Christ-like character and conduct. To describe this, we could go through the entire Bible cataloging all the character traits and behaviors that are commanded and exemplified in the lives of godly saints. But the supreme example is Jesus. He said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. These are relationship commands. You can measure how mature in Christ you are by assessing your relationships with God and with others. Are you growing with God intellectually? Emotionally? Physically? Many of our mainline Christians today would shrug at this question. They don’t know how to answer it. Most haven’t taken a Christian discipleship class since their confirmation. How long ago was that? To help others mature in Christ, you’ve got to be growing in maturity, too. Seminary professor, Dr. Howard Hendricks, used to say, “You cannot impart what you do not possess!” If you’re not making a concerted effort to become more than a couch potato Christian in Christ, then you won’t mature past an adolescent faith and then you can’t help someone else in that process. One of the last things Jesus says to us is to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” Paul says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (See, also, 1 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 and 3:9.) You may be thinking, “That’s kind of intimidating! I don’t feel adequate to help others grow in Christ. I don’t think I’ll ever be at the point where I could tell others to be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Well, I’ve got news for you: If you’ve got kids, or grandkids, or neighbors or go to work or church or the gym, if people see you period: they are learning from your example! You may be a good example to them of someone who is growing in Christ, or you may be a poor example. But you are an example! We want to help you! I want you to join me on my growth journey. You may be a gift to me. Join us for Wednesday studies, “Good and Beautiful God” at 6 PM or Bible study at 10 AM. Look for our soon to be announced fall offerings, too. Or better yet start your own group! I would love to see people maturing into the image of Jesus by loving God and neighbors. May you be inspired to become more of who you are meant to be. Rev. Trey Hegar
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