I run into a lot of people who are very active in their church. Some have perfect attendance. Some have a long record of service in various capacities within the organization. Still others can tell you their favorite hymn or praise and worship song. But if I press, and often I do, they have very little to say about their relationship with Jesus. Herein lies the greatest need within the church today.
True faith, which leads to a lifestyle of discipleship, hinges on the depth of one’s relationship. It is probably safe to say that every church has a doctrine to which its members try to adhere. There is some good that comes from having a focused statement of beliefs. No one wants to be affiliated with a willy-nilly group where anything goes. But this essay is not about dogma or doctrine. Most have very valid points, even if I may not agree with them. And all Christian churches should have some common core beliefs.
What I am talking about is the misconception that all the things we do are marks of a mature spiritual life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said, “Many will say ‘I did (this or that) in your name’, and I will say ‘Depart from me…I never KNEW you.'” It is in the knowing that we grow. And as we grow, our faith deepens, our relationship is strengthened, and our lives change.
The marks of spiritual maturity are seen in the fruit of the Spirit, those inward qualities which cannot necessarily be quantified or observed. As we grow, we discover a deeper love for Jesus and a longing to not only do for but be with him. And the result of that growth leads to a story- one that can be told with ease because it is so much a part of who we are now.
When asked about our faith, we will not respond with our church experience but with the personal experience of knowing and being known by Jesus Christ, of being transformed by the renewing of our mind, and of living our lives- day in and day out, wherever we are- as a disciple. Are you growing into a mature disciple? I pray you are, and would love to help you discover the joy of true discipleship if you aren’t.