There is a member of Your Church that you admire and strive to be like. Your friend just always seems to know the right things to say, the right Scripture and has advice that seems ‘just right’. Maybe your friend has been going to church longer than you or not as long as you have been going.
We live in a fast paced world where we grow impatient if we do not have ‘immediate’ success,’immediate gratification and ‘immediate’ results! Many times when someone takes the steps to become a Child of God and find their Salvation, Church members often will see a ‘new Christian’ at first, work hard, get involved with Church Activities and Minstrys. Our New Brother or Sister in Christ also asks a lot of questions from their excitement of their new found Salvation wanting to gain knowledge. Every person seeks to be a good Christian. Then one day the Church Family notice that our new Brother/Sister has not been to Church in several weeks. After several attempts by the Church Family to help our ner brother/sister prove fruitless, the ‘new Christian’ is rarely seen again by the Church Family.
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither now are ye able.” I Corinthians 3:2
What happened to the New Christian? Some Church members knew exactly what happened? Some were always confused over ‘how excited and always asking questions…then gone! What is Paul talking about in Corinthians 3:2? What does milk and meat mean?
Paul was refering to our Spiritual Growth as a Child of God. With Growth comes knowledge, maturity, understanding and life’s lessons we have learned through our mistakes, sorrows and trials. During our ‘growth’ we should always want to strive for a close, intimate, personal relationship with our Father.
Being 10 years old or 60 years old has no difference with Spiritual Maturity.I have 3 daughters, each one of them found their Salvation at different ages and each are at different ‘stages’ of their Spiritual maturity. To their regret I will use my daughters to try and explain how we should look at our Spiritual Growth. Just as we are born to our parents so is our new Rebirth. We have to learn to hold our head up before we can crawl. We have to learn to walk before we can run. We have to learn to speak before we can know the definition of words. Every thing we experience from birth we experience much the same as a Christian.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” I Peter 2:2
A babies develop they gain motor skills such as smiling, cooing, and moving around. They will examine their fists when they notice them. Because all things are new to them they have to learn how to doa lot of things mainly alone. It would be difficule to teach a baby to hold his head up and potty train a 2 month old baby. Because they are learning about so many things they are just discovering and for parents this special time of watching your baby learn ends too soon. For a new Christian their Spiritual rebirth is very much the same. And the new Christian ‘baby’ starts growing up much too soon. Remember when you found your Salvation? All the excitement and desire to learn and help rushing in. You felt like you could do anything! All the Peace, excitement and feeling like you were floating in the air! And everyone all over you with such love…like we do when a new baby or grandchild is born we are all trying to hold the baby all the time.
Like toddlers learn to perform basic functions talk, walk and use the potty. They learn to hold the spoon and feed them selves. They become easily upset if they cannot do something. Or throw a fit if they can’t have something. They are into everything! If you do not watch them every second they will stick their finger in a plug in or flush the cat down the toilet! And people do not come to see the toddler like they did when he was a baby, the newness is gone! Doctors tell us this is the most important growing phase for a child. The more they learn as a toddler the easier education will be for them while in School. I will refer to this as the Christian Toddler so I do not confuse you. Right after the New feeling starts to fade our toddler is having to learn the basics of his Salvation. He is learning the meanings of simple verse. Trying to learn to study the Bible and learn to pray. He is trying to walk as a Christian and how to talk. He becomes easily upset when he cannot be ‘perfect’. He is trying too hard and because he is wanting to learn everything too soon he becomes frustrated. This is when the devil is working hard to convince our toddler “You can’t do this? It is too hard? No one cares! You are on your own!” every part of our toddlers life satan is working hard trying to show our toddler he cant walk! The Church family in most parts of this period are not offering to help or call as much it is NOT that no one cares but as we grow older we can tell you every second of the Day We Got Saved but sometimes we just could not tell you about our toddler period. We are used to our Church Family coming to each other in Spiritual need we may assume our toddler will too. The struggle becomes too great and that is when the Church loses New Christians. For this we should all take great steps to help protect our toddler by not just saying ‘ Call if you need anything.” Chances are they DO need us, but feel too much like a failure to call. Just go and be there for him the Church needs to hold him tight because ‘The devil is our toddlers plug in and he is trying to get our toddler to stick his finger in!’
Becoming a child and going to school. ‘I’m grown up now!’ Learning so much and learning independance. They want to do their homework when they want. You cannot under stand how a straight A child does not understand the word ‘behave’! A child is just learning to read but they do not know what the words mean yet. We seem to have no patience! BUT, if you do not give a child enough attention or say one thing wrong you could mess up your kid for life. And we are frustrated with the noise, arguing and messes they make it is easy to yell a little sometimes. This happens also in the Christian Child phase! My oldest daughter was Saved when she was 20. She struggles with just reading God’s Word she can read it but like a child does not understand what the Word means! She will ask something and it is so hard to get her to understand. She will aggravate with the same questions and the same conclusions. She will do something wrong sometimes on purpose! Some would say she just dosent know how to behave. Sunday School teachers know this phase well. Remember some of those Children who just drove you nuts. When everyone in class is in prayer he is still asking questions. They are really just learning to pray. You ended up staying for hours after Church just to get this Child to understand one verse. They would call and talk for hours and then call back later that day in tears. Every little thing they did they called you. They could read well in class when it was their turn and tried much too hard to help. but you sometimes did not get to finish your class you planned down to each minute because that Child was asking more questions, again! This was the one who asked the most they were too excited about their Childhood Growth to wait and listen. Everyone in class should ask questions If no one in class is asking questions then you need to find out why! Our Child is probably the one you loved best. You were the one they loved best and they trust the most. It is our job to guide our Child. Frustration will show and we could cause our child serious Spiritual harm because the Child looks up to a person as a role model, teacher, council/surrogate father/mother, and friend! A lot of titles for our Child’s new best friend. But remember this when you feel like screaming that this Child puts a lot of Faith in YOU to teach and guide them this should make you feel much more humble about helping a Child Grow. If we become unavailable for our Child and get upset. They will know. Then our Child has learned his first hurt as a Growing Child and like a child would do when emotionally or mentally injured Our Child will either withdraw from the Church and may never trust Church again or leave Church and become unruly (drinking, etc) OR that Child might still be in Church the one sitting in the back all these years seems real nice but may not be active with ministry, etc.. Some hurts to a Child can be damaging because it may put a wall around a Child that God has gifted to do a lot of things God is waiting for them to bust down the wall of hurt to do.
Teenagers and Young Adults What would we do without them? Never listen. Think they know more than we do. We do not understand. They are sweet one minute then crazy the next. Every little thing is life or death! Everyone else has one! She is not my best friend anymore! Curfew, what is that? Phone! I thought it got stuck on the kids ear! Teenagers are impatient! The same applies to our young adult phase. And we all say I wish I could do that over again. Married the wrongperson. made some big mistakes. My middle child, now 20 found her Salvation at the age of 13 and understands God’s word but she does not allow God to have full control in her life. By this I mean that she has the impatience of youth. When we mature as a Christian we can most of the time during trials and sorrows just sit back and let God take control. We can sometimes want a prayer answered ASAP but we are mature enough to know He will answer when it is best for us and get excited over HOW God will answer the prayer! .During the Young Adult Phase our friend has gained some understanding and they are proud of it! They have had a big Growing part of their Salvation. Learning to trust in God. They understand what that means but they don’t realize they do not give God full control, they think they do. They may have had a trial that they could feel God’s presence. Remember this phase I do! I prayed all the time but i did not have a conversation with God. I was Saved and thought if I did right, went to Church, help others, etc. I would have a good life. I did not even realize that I could have a relationship with God. I just prayed like I thought was right. God helped me during trials but I did not understand to let Him have them all. God took care of my worries. BUT I worried them to death before he did. Then felt bad later as I grew as a Christian when I did not leave a worry behind. We thought we had it right! Sometimes we would give up and not go to Church or read His word. A lot of lessons come into play here. When you think you know it all and find out you don’t then you give up for a while or keep trying. A lot of people in this Phase become so frustrated they do sometimes quit Church for years. During this time like the ‘teenage hormones’ We had information overload from self and others. Confusion because some things you thought was right are not. The drama of I really messed up God will never forgive me. Maybe at Church you seek fault in others to justify yourself. So many things in this phase to cover The drama of God won’t love me anymore. And the impatience of youth all this hitting your brain and you want to do it all right now! When you find you cannot then you act like a teenager and are ‘just going to die’!
No one can define Spiritual maturity for an Individual. We are in constant learning and works in progress. My 14 year old was Saved at a young age. Sometimes I think she knew Scripture before she could talk. I am not saying that my ‘brilliant 14 year old child prodigy’ (who hates math) can be classified as a Mature Christian she is not. I live with her I KNOW! But she sets examples every day for so many of us to live by. To me she is proof that we are always maturing/aging as a Christian. When do we know we are becoming a Mature Christian? We are always going to be maturing as a Christian this Growth will never stop. There are a lot of answers to this! When a Christian Friend or Family member dies we do NOT cry but we become a little Jealous because they beat us Home. When we enjoy making it through the hard trials with all Faith in God. Knowing for a fact He will lead you through. Excited to get home from work to read the Bible! When you are feeling all alone and have no friends you know He IS all you need! When you are sitting at home with nothing to eat and you do not worry even for one second because God knows what you need and He loves you. Then you find something that just was NOT there. When you have that relationship with God and you can climb in his lap and cry. When you know God’s voice. You do not have the DSoubt you had as a teen. You Know! When you have a conversation with God just like you were talking on the phone to someone from the neighborhood! When you just feel that someone needs something and you stop right then and there and make a call or pay a visit. When you don’t talk on the Cell phone going to work and you notice people looking at you like you went crazy You was talking out loud to God. When you see someone get saved you are crying with joy and Praising Jesus name. When you can remember the lessons learned by hard trials and sorrows and be thankful and give praise for Growing even more. When God tells you to do something and you IMMEDIATLY listen and do not think about what people would say. My 14 year old gave a good example of this when she was 9 she came to me “Mom I think God wants me to talk to Beth (her friend) But My friends will make fun of me.” I told her “When God tells you to do something you better do it or He will ‘bring you down’ to teach you a little lesson. She went out again and chose to play instead. Then here she came she fell and busted her knee. Stitches. At the hospital she looked as us ans said “The next time God tells me to do something I am going to listen. When we love the lessons and still Praise his name. When we look up and watch the Sky. When we canremember the Phases we went through and reach out to others and really help them grow. When we can listen and learn instead of just teach. I don’t want Him to bring me down again!’ She is a very literal person you have to watch how you phrase words around her. To this day she still lives this. She can be pushy when talking to others but she obeys. Because she is Proud to Belong to God! She Believes in her Salvation! She Listens to His word! She lost her foot at the age of 10 and that night at the hospital she cried for hours. The nus=rses her dad and I pushed her in her hospital bed for over an hour. Loud crying non stop! Our nerves were shot. Suddenly she stopped We all looked at her face. I will never forget the expression on her face. She said ‘Mom I prayed and asked Jesus to please help me it hurts so bad. Smiling she said “He did mommy He did I could FEEL HIS ARMS wrap around me!’ She then used her little arms to describe what Jesus did. “We are made of body and Spirit Mommy we are” he did send me the Comfort I can feel it!” “See I can feel my toes (not there) I can feel my leg (not there) ” From thst moment on she has never shed one tear for her loss and has never complained. She now faces losing her other foot. But never has she shown any emotion but PEACE! She said God has gave her Peace over losing her last foot. Since then she has dedicated her life to helping others and was given several awards for the work she did in Helping Katrina’ Kids. She lost her foot just a few days before katrina happened. She speaks for the homeless. and loves to try to witness to an athiest. Her dad left us and it is rough. But she never worries.; She is not perfect she is a teenager with her mothers big mouth. But through the things she does and how Strong she is Spiritually she gives us more meaning to AMAZING GRACE!
When will we mature? I dont know the exact time in our lives when we will but I believe we will become full grown, When we are walking down the street one day and look around and see a strange wall. It is pretty! Then you look down. A yellow Street made of Pure Gold. You see your family and all your friends we all look brand new! You see a Throne toward it you go. Someone just stopped right in front of you. You looked down at the ground and you see Two Scarred Feet standing in front of you! His Arms Open wide you see the Scars in His Hands. Holding Him close and prasing His name then you see the Father there on the throne. You run to Him He holds you in His Lap and wipes the tears from your eyes. Then He says ” Welcome home Child you have won the race now my child, Well done!