ENTRY LEVEL CHRISTIANITY
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Being born again is the key to seeing the Kingdom of God. There is no reason to think that it should stop there!
Once we submit our hearts fully to God, our eyes are opened to "entry level" insight into the Kingdom of God. But God fully intends for us to progress in our discipleship!
If we want to grow in the knowledge of God, we must not be satisfied with becoming a Christian. We must push ourselves to grow to full maturity in Christ.
This is not merely for the sake of acquiring head knowledge about God. Our level of growth in Christ determines our level of understanding Him and representing Him to the world. A lack of spiritual growth in Christ causes at least three problems.
1. Less than Holy living! This is so often misused to demand perfection from a legalistic perspective. Nevertheless God commands that we live holy lives! When we fail to grow in Christ, we fail to grasp what Holy living means, let alone accomplish it!
How much pain we suffer and pass on to others when we fail to break free of those things which not only displease God but also keep us bound if we don't grow strong enough to conquer them!
2. Misunderstanding God and His ways! This is so often the reason Christians are mocked or viewed as hypocrites. Certainly Christians will be mocked for doing right and speaking accurately about God.This is unavoidable for true Christians.
20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
I Peter 4:14
But Peter includes a caveat in his admonition:
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
I Peter 4:14-15
The Apostle Peter makes it clear the it is normal and even a blessing to be persecuted for the Name of Christ, i.e. for obedience to God and when accurately representing Him.
But if we do wrong or act as busybodies in other's lives and misrepresent Jesus, we are suffering for our lack of maturity as followers of Christ!
3. Being ill-equipped for ministry! My pastor's father-in-law has a saying, "You cannot impart what has not first become a part of you!" That is so profound! When we merely repeat what others say about Jesus or the ways of God, without first having grasped them through personal experience, their lack of credibility will most often fall on deaf ears.
Someone else said, "You can't lead where you won't go!" No one wants to heed the words of someone who is telling the what they should do when they have not proved it out in their own lives!
If we do not apply ourselves to grow as disciples in Christ, we may be "saved" but we will suffer personally and cause others to suffer through our lack of Holy lives. We will often misrepresent God and be ineffective in our ministry to others!
The world desperately needs Jesus Christ! It does not need our superior intellect or natural talents and gifts as much as it needs Christians who are transformed by growth in Christ!
In short, the world needs Jesus not us - and the only way we can meet that need and connect Jesus to the world is by progressing as His disciples and grow to become vessels shaped, trained and prepared for the Master's use!
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.
21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:20-21
Growing as a disciples of Christ is not only for our own personal convenience or well being. As members of His body, we must progress for the sake of the Kingdom of God and for the lost and dying in the world!
The world does not just need more "Christians" - it desperately needs DISCIPLES who are dedicated to PROGRESSIVELY GROWING IN CHRIST, pressing toward all we can be in God, and for God, until the day we go to be with Him in eternity!