The Greatest Tragedy in the Christian Church
- Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
- Spiritual children experience God as little more than an acquaintance or at most a casual friend. Full intimacy will come later.
- Spiritual children know that their sins are forgiven and that God is their father.
- Spiritual children are refocusing their eyes from Earth to Heaven.
- Spiritual Children often show signs of immaturity -- like hypocrisy.
- All spiritual children are dependent on others for their care and feeding.
- Spiritual children are still learning how to apply the Bible to their lives.
- Spiritual children struggle with commitment. (A hush descends on my classroom whenever we discuss tithing and giving generously to the Lord. Many of the students are thinking rather highly of their spiritual progress until I point out that little givers are, by definition, mired in spiritual childhood. This is a big sticking point for my students. At this point their self-evaluated spiritual level tends to plummet.)
- Spiritual children struggle with knowing and understanding Biblical beliefs and doctrines.
- Spiritual children tend to be fearful and insecure. (Fear and insecurity usually spring from a lack of faith. For example, spiritual children wonder, “Can I afford to give? I’m afraid that if I tithe, I might not have enough left over to take care of my needs.”)
Spiritual Young Men and Women
- Spiritual young men and women are exercising their spiritual muscles by constantly utilizing the spiritual disciplines.
- The “Word of God” lives in spiritual young men and women. (In John’s writings, the term “Word of God” consistently refers to the Person of Jesus Christ. Of course, the term Word of God also refers to the Bible. Spiritual young men and women are becoming very close friends with the Bible as well as with the Word of God Himself, Jesus Christ.)
- Spiritual young men and women have overcome the Evil One. (This is another stand out revealer of one's level of spiritual maturity. They know how to fight Satan on his terms and win.)
- One demonstration that men and women are growing toward maturity is an “others-centered” mentality.
- Spiritual young men and women develop a generous heart that motivates them to excel in the grace of giving.
- Spiritual young men and women know the truth of who we are in Christ.
- Just as spiritual children show signs of immaturity, so do spiritual adolescents. The fact that they are not yet spiritual mothers and fathers often manifests as pride.
Spiritual Mothers and Fathers
- Spiritual mothers and fathers experience the depths of an infinite relationship with God the Father Himself. Twice John repeats: “You have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13, 14).
- Spiritual mothers and fathers manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers are clothed with humility and grace. They remind others of what Jesus is like.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers are more likely to live above difficult circumstances. They live the victorious Christian life.
- Spiritual parents partner with Jesus in the care and nurturing of others.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers guide lost sheep into the kingdom of God. This is the essence of evangelism.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers view life and experiences from God’s perspective on the resurrection side of the Cross.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers refuse to be dogmatic because of their growing understanding of the infiniteness of God.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers weep with Jesus when He's in pain.
- Spiritual parents sense Christ’s pain and compassionately minister to Him as well as to others.
- Spiritual mothers and fathers long ago waded through the questions, struggles, doubts, self-reliance, self-centeredness, and self-condemnation that cause so many to stumble or turn back from the journey.
- Mothers and fathers long to experience the resurrected life of Christ at any price.
Andrea, the growth process outlined in the Bible implies a long-term commitment. Nothing less than wholehearted devotion will suffice. The process is not for the faint of heart. However, along the way, you will increasingly experience the deepening love and resurrection power of Christ. Over time (like 25 years or so) you can’t help but develop an irresistible urge to become like Christ at any price.
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