It is hard to see any wisdom in allowing the chief evangelist and church planter of the First Century to be caged in a Roman prison. But God, who alone knows all things and understands all things, allowed it to be so. Why?
We accept without a second thought that Christ’s suffering was for our sake. He is our Holy sacrifice. His innocence and perfection were poured out in payment for our guilt and depravity. We get that. It is another giant leap to say that Paul suffered imprisonment for the good of The Church, but that is exactly what happened.
Paul was desperately needed by his own generation. He was needed as the traveling preacher and problem solver. He was needed as the indefatigable church-planter whose judgment in matters of right leadership was critical to the survival – and flourishing – of The Faith. Paul had deep insight into…
No, this isn’t about betting and gambling. It’s about a much ignored principle that is necessary to follow Jesus. The principle is: MATURITY! To be more exact, becoming Mature as a follower of Jesus. The lack of encouraging and teaching about Maturity is glaringly absent across the board of theological thought. Both evangelicals and progressives are failing miserably in understanding Maturity. I feel like the writer of Hebrews felt in these words:
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Hebrews 6:1-2 (NIV)
And I know that for many seasons of my life, I have come up short in arena of Maturity. But lately I have gone back to being a Disciple rather than a Pastor and Teacher. It has been a neglected journey far too often; but now, consider me simply a “student” sharing a report with the rest of the class of what I am discovering about this process of Maturity.
I’m not sharing “Steps To Maturity”–steps rarely work. But Principles work in every situation. I am praying this nearly every day. And the days I forget to pray these principles…let’s just say it shows in my spiritual life. I call this principle The Maturity Trifecta! Remember, this isn’t a 3 steps to Maturity, but an attitude and desire of the WHOLE PERSON. Here is the process and principles that each of us needs to begin each day with, and all day long.
1. Lord, help me keep my heart pure. 2. Lord, help me keep my mind focused on YOU. 3. Lord, help me keep my actions holy.
Face it, our hearts, left to itself, is tainted. We become selfish and even mean when our heart is neglected. Only The Holy Spirit can help keep our hearts pure. And our minds? Dear Lord in Heaven, without HIS help our thinking becomes twisted and vile; after all, it’s where Satan attacks us. And our actions must be holy. Holiness isn’t defined primarily by what we DON’T DO, and there’s a lot we shouldn’t do. Holiness is also what WE DO, it’s found in our actions. You can’t see what’s in my heart. You can’t see what’s in my mind (there are times you should be thankful for that!). But you can see my actions and hear my words.
So, pray! Every day and all day long, pray The Maturity Trifecta! Application of this Principle will lead you towards Maturity In Christ and God’s Kingdom will invade this world. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!