Growing Disciples – Part One

“Under Christ’s direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” – Ephesians 4:16

An old story tells of an elderly gentleman who had a problem with bats in his attic. He tried exterminator after exterminator but none of them could get rid of the bats. The bats would leave for a while, but they always came back. Finally the poor old guy was so desperate that he called his pastor. He didn’t know what the pastor could do, but he was at his wits end. The pastor went up into the attic for about 15 minutes, came back down and said, “That should take care of it.” The old guy was skeptical, but sure enough six days passed and the bats had not returned. The next Sunday the old man went to the pastor and said, “I’ve just got to know, what did you do to get rid of those bats? After you visited they never returned.” The pastor just smiled and said, “Simple, I just baptized and confirmed them.”

That story might be funny if it weren’t so close to the truth. Far too many Christians seem to believe that Sunday School or Confirmation are the height of Christian education. Others believe that once they’ve joined a church and attend worship regularly they’ve arrived as a Christian. But the truth is God’s hope and desire for our life is that we become more and more like Jesus – right up until the day we die. Sanctification – this process of life transformation – is a lifelong process. Spiritually, if you are not growing, you’re dying – and missing the best part of living in Christ. Our journey of discipleship begins when we are born again in Jesus Christ. The rest of our life is spent growing up, maturing. And the gold standard of maturity has a name: Jesus. If you want to know what spiritual maturity looks like, look to Jesus. The Apostle Paul said that the goal of this life for every Christian is to, “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)

Isn’t that cool? God’s desire, God’s purpose, God’s plan for every one of us is that we might grow up into the fullness of Christ. I think about all the people in this life I’ve wanted to be like. I wanted to play soccer like Pele. I wanted to play the flute like Jethro Tull. I wanted to be a chick magnet like The Fonz. But God’s got something so much better: not imitation, but transformation. And he does most of the work of this transformation by Christ’s power at work in us. God’s desire is that we might grow by his grace day by day into the likeness of his Son. Are you growing?

Bringing It Home
In what specific ways are you more like Jesus today than you were one year ago?
Ask God to reveal to you your next step on the journey to spiritual maturity.

Lord, I’m not all that you created me to be, but I also know that you’re not done with me! Thank you for the hope of knowing that your Spirit is alive and active in my life. Remove the barriers that keep me from growing spiritually – barriers of attitude, behavior, or belief. Keep my eyes set on the prize: a life that is conformed to the death and resurrection of Jesus. In his name I pray. Amen.

Jeff Marian
Prince of Peace, Burnsville, MN

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