The Decision to Mature
1 Corinthians 3.1–3a NIV
“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.
Week 3 of our series “6 Decisions That Will Change Your Life” is The Decision to Mature. The last two weeks we saw that the decision to follow and the decision for new life both involved following Christ wherever He leads and putting on Christ like a permanent garment that we’re never without.
Today’s decision to mature is found in our willingness to participate in what God is doing in our life. When we participate in the grace God provides, we nourish our faith and souls. That nourishment to our spiritual life is what builds up our faith and makes it ready for the fullness of God to grow within our hearts. If we do not grow, we will be stunted and unnecessarily handicapped for the tasks ahead of us.
God is in no way done with us once we say “yes” to faith; He is not done with us because we claimed our infant baptism or decided to be baptized for the first time; He is not done with us because we served on a committee, decided to teach a class, or go on a mission trip. God is making us into the glorious, soul-saving image of His Son, Jesus Christ, and THAT is an amazing journey. As Methodists, we called this maturing process sanctification, a process of growth whereby God is setting us aside as sacred persons for mission and ministry. When we grow, things around us grow. But we must be about the process.
Our text from 1 Corinthians 3 really holds our feet to the fire in regards to maturing, making it clear that the diet of a mature Christian must move beyond the basics so that we can continue the work of God in the world. Let’s take our own church, for example. Look at the places where we feel that we may be lacking in various ways. Many of the obstacles, the shortfalls or even failures that we perceive or experience are not a result of a lack of resources or person-power. Our obstacles are a result of us not moving beyond where we are in faith to the next level of godly activity.
If we have hopes and dreams for our lives, our families, our classes, our church, our community and our world, then we must move beyond an elementary kind of faith. Let us take the discipline of prayer, for instance. If we are in the business of only “throwing up a prayer” from time to time, then we are by no means moving forward in our faith. And if we are not moving forward then we are not growing, and if not growing then we are experiencing less of God than He desires to reveal to us. Not to mention we will have little influence in the lives of those around us.
Instead, we are to steep ourselves in prayer. I love that word, steep, because it describes the activity that we must have as Christians if we want to see progress in our faith. To steep in the traditional sense is like when we take a bag of tea and we immerse it in hot water in order for the water to extract all the flavor. But there are factors that are important to the success of the tea. If the water isn’t hot enough or the bag is taken out too quickly, the tea never reaches its intended purpose. The same is true about the others means of grace we have as Christians. If we do not steep ourselves in Christian fellowship, evangelism, Scripture study, general ministry, etc, then we can expect to have spiritual tea that is either watered down or less then it was intended to be.
And I believe your challenge is before you: what other practices, other disciplines, do you need to be steeped in? This is the most important question, because your answer is the place where you need to begin putting your focus in order to grow. This is the beginning of the maturing of your faith, either for the first time or in new ways for you as a Christian who’s continuing the journey of faith.
The decision to mature is one that God has placed before you the moment you took interest in Him. It is your participation in what God is doing in your life that is required. What is He calling you toward? Is it to pray more? To dive into the Scriptures? Is it to mentor or guide another’s life? Is it to attend church more often? Is it to give beyond your current level of comfort? Is it to take up ministry in new and challenging ways?
We are called to more than just considering these questions; we are called to answer these questions. The decision to mature. Will you make that decision. Let us pray…