The previous chapter of the book Life On Mission focused on the Gospel and reminded us that the more we grasp what Jesus has done for us and in us – redemption from death through grace – the more we will be compelled to communicate Jesus to our neighbors around the globe. As readers stroll through Chapter 6 – Spiritual Maturity – we are admonished to move towards maturity in Christ. “Our world does not simply need people who know more facts about God, but rather people who are falling deeper in love with who God is.” This will result in Christians growing spiritually.
Section 2/Chapter 6 – Gospel Foundations/Spiritual Maturity
In this chapter the authors (Willis and Coe) make the argument that as we grow a deeper understanding of our identity in Jesus, we will willingly submit our sinful nature to the work of the Holy Spirit, resulting in consistently present spiritual maturity, manifested in our obedience to God and our interaction with our neighbors.
In this section of the book much focus is placed on God’s Supremacy, Sovereignty and Love. Willis and Coe reminds us that our faithful God is involved in every aspect of His creation from providing food for us to knowing the number of days we will live. The fact that God is sovereign he can do all things and should give us hope that as long as we follow in obedience, we are in the center of his will. The question is raised and answered, “Why does God love and why should that love help develop maturity and propel us toward mission? Because of God’s holiness, He had every right to banish humanity from the face of the earth but He chose not to do that.” In a mysterious act of grace, He chose to have mercy on us and pursue a relationship instead.
The point is also raised in the chapter that knowledge or time are not necessarily proportional to maturity, but that humility, obedience, and application are far more closely tied to maturity. “One truth that the author of Hebrews 5 makes is that although there should be a correlation between the amount of time a person has known Jesus and their spiritual maturity, it doesn’t always work that way”. The authors of the book then explain that the “gospel doesn’t just free you; it changes you”. In Galatians 5, Paul gave us a picture of what the change in our lives will look like when we are being molded by the Holy Spirit – When we walk with Jesus, we consistently develop more and more of these characteristics of the fruit of the spirit.
The authors in chapter six support the idea that “We will not be able to recover a vision and passion for missions until we recover the grandeur that God made us to know and worship Him and make Him known throughout the whole earth.” From this chapter, Spiritual Maturity could be described as the extent to which we can navigate this world of sin and have power over temptations. A great example of this is the life of Jesus while on earth. Hebrews 4:15 says it best – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Jesus was able to walk the earth for approximately thirty-three years without sinning. That must have taken an infinite amount of discipline and self-control, which could only be accomplished through submitting His life, desire and actions to the Holy Spirit. A life not dominated by sin is without doubt a life controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Just as we grow physically with time, we should also grow spiritually after becoming Christians. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” – 1 Peter 2:2. There are many of us believers whose maturity falls way behind our spiritual age. Some Christian may grow in knowledge of the Word but our actions towards god and by extension our neighbors may not be good or getting any better. Are there areas where you have knowledge but not application and obedience? Accepting that God is in control of all things and releasing your desire to Him will work as the starting point toward freedom from bondage of sin and, ultimately, growth toward maturity.
The BibleHub (http://biblehub.com/galatians/5-22.htm) describes the fruit of the spirit as “that which naturally grows out of the operation of the Spirit,” Characteristics of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Maturing is a continuous process and living out these traits are definitely not easy but understanding God’s Supremacy, Sovereignty and Love, we can be propelled through God’s Word and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to live a lives of testimony of our redemption and witness of Christ our savior.
Galatians 5:22-25 –“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
What are your thoughts?
See you for Section 2/Chapter 7 next week.
~ Garfield Miller, Missions Coordinator, Jamaica