“1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[
a] and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.”Hebrews 6:1-3 NIV
Being born again is essential for a believer, but it doesn’t end there. Making a decision or commitment for Jesus, or raising my hand at a church service does not complete my spiritual journey it only begins my spiritual journey.
The author of Hebrews gives pastoral encouragement to a small church of Jewish believers who had long ago put their trust in Jesus as their savior, but over time, they, like any other group of believers, grew weary in their pursuit of holiness. They thought that once they invited Jesus to be their Savior, things would get better, but things had not. They hoped that after giving their lives to Christ, persecution would diminish. It didn’t. They had hoped that the shame they had to face and ridicule they endured would decrease over time since they had given themselves to become Christ followers. It didn’t. As a result, the Hebrew church began to slip into a slump where they sought to be comfortable and ignore their spiritual growth.
As my children get older, I expect that they begin to mature. I expect that their bodies begin to grow taller and bigger, that their minds grow sharper and more experienced, and that their attitudes begin to mature. That is what the Hebrews pastor hoped for his struggling fellowship. He recognized that a failure to grow in maturity revealed some sort of dysfunction. As a result, he urges them to press onto maturity in their faith.
As I mature, I am reminded that there are several things within me that MUST change:
My thinking must change.
How I think today is very different from how I thought 20 years ago. I can now take more information into consideration. I have more experience in life to help me be wiser in my decisions. If I am to mature in Christ, my thinking must always be changing.
As a child, the fingers inevitably point to self. Who will feed me? Who will care for me? What will I get from this? As I mature, the questions need to change. How can I help? What can I do for you? What can I do for others? How can I help to feed others the gospel?
My behavior must change.
In other words, the depth of my love for others must increase. My ability to forgive quickly must increase. Just because I have said a prayer in church and think the scriptures are true, does not necessarily make me a different or more loving person. Just because someone has submitted to the idea of a God who loves them, has a biblical worldview, and says the right thing about Jesus, does not automatically make them loving people. After all, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day subscribed to all of those same views. They appeared to be closest to God because of the amount of information and scriptures they memorized, but when I search the scriptures, they were the ones whom Jesus most sharply rebuked; those who were religious, but whose behavior and love for others had not changed.
Jesus Himself said that people would be able to identify His followers by the love we have for one another. He never said we would be identified by church bumper stickers or t-shirts. He never said that we would be identified by our ability to spout off church language or by our church bulletins. He says we will be known by our love for one another. Unfortunately, too many times Christians are known more by what we oppose (gay marriage/lifestyles, abortion, etc.), than for whom we are for. Jesus reminds us that we ought to be known not for what we are against, but for whom we are with.
I read recently about a wise man who said:
“There are three kinds of people in all types of organizations — rowboat people, sailboat people, and steamboat people. Rowboat people need to be pushed or shoved along. Sailboat people move when a favorable wind is blowing their way. Steamboat people move continuously, through calm or storm. They usually are masters of themselves, their surroundings, and their fate.”
I don’t want to be a rowboat or a sailboat for Jesus, I want to be a steamboat for Jesus. I want to press onto maturity in my faith. I don’t want to simply be exposed to the message of Jesus, I want to be transformed by it. I don’t want to be fascinated by His words, I want to be made more into His image by obeying His words.
Make me and mold me Lord into Your image. Lord let my faith not be simply one that floats in my head but does not change my actions. I want to be an example for Your people to draw others to You by what I do and what I say. Let me be a Steamboat for You. Amen.