Welcome to week 2 of Danger Ahead. Last week I introduced the idea that if we live in our flesh, we are headed for danger. (Link)
I am someone who asks a lot of questions. I think I get that from my dad. When people get saved and make Jesus their savior, my question is, “What’s next for them?”
Jesus called out to some guys a couple thousand years ago and told them to follow Him. They were His first disciples (followers). The original disciples got to be up front and personal and watch Jesus’ every move… can you even imagine?! How cool! That’s the same thing that He has done with us. He got our attention and we started following Him. The only difference is that He isn’t walking around with us today. We have to seek discipleship in other ways.
I think that there is a big discipleship gap in the Church today and many just don’t even know where to begin. This image might help us distinguish where we are in our journey. It’s not meant to be offensive and will make sense in just a second.
I am going to walk us through spiritual, developmental stages to help us identify where we are in our walk with Jesus. I am correlating the type of cup people use in different stages of life with how we grow spiritually. This is just meant to helpful. It is by no means an exact science. So, let’s begin.
- Can’t do anything for themselves.
- Have to be fed, clothed, and changed.
- Say “Waaaa!”
- Spiritual babies sit, eat, and don’t contribute. They are taking it all in.
- Can walk and say a few words, have to have a lid on their cup.
- Have to be clothed and changed but can take small bites for themselves.
- Say “No!” and “Mine!”
- Spiritual toddlers are beginning to read the word and pray, might invite their friends to church.
- Is learning to pour their own cup but you can expect spills to happen. Parents expect a certain level of self-control and obedience.
- Have to be reminded to put their clothes on and eat healthy foods.
- Say “That’s not fair” and “It’s not my fault.”
- Spiritual children are starting to hear God and obey what He is telling them to do. They don’t like it when they get corrected and sometimes pick fights with their siblings (other believers).
- Are expected to pour their own glass.
- Responsibility is expected – get themselves up for school, get dressed, drive to school and get themselves to work.
- Say “Why don’t you understand me.”
- Spiritual teens have begun serving but get attitudes when they don’t get the attention they feel they deserve. They need mentors to challenge them.
- Are expected to provide for their family and invite others to their table to share.
- They teach their kids appropriate behavior.
- Say “Let me help you.”
- Spiritual adults give, lead, feed, mentor, are aware of the areas where they struggle and seek help in humility.
- Adults know they are still growing too. There are many stages of adulthood: young adults, married with young kids, middle age, senior adults.
Now, with these images in mind, let me ask you a question: How awkward would it be to watch an adult slurping down some milk out of a sippy-cup? At best, it would be very disturbing! Why? Because we expect grownups to behave like grownups.
However, when it comes to our walk with Jesus, many of us have decided that where we are is who we are. We camp out in our immaturity and blame the hard things we’ve been through for our bad behavior.
Jesus is not about stagnancy or complacency. He wants us to grow up. Sorry for that blunt delivery, but that’s what He expects. And He gets all the glory when we do. So, here’s what’s next:
- Identify where you are in your process. How “old” are you? Not where you think you should be, but where you are based on your reactions and the fruit coming out of your life. If you can’t tell on your own, it might be helpful to ask a trusted person where they see you and how their interactions with you have been.
- Imagine yourself where you want to be. It takes faith to grow from each stage. I camped out with my baby bottle for years and had to be aggressively forced out of my infancy. Babies don’t like to be weaned. They scream, get clingy, and freak out like we are killing them! We have to have grace with ourselves (and those around us who are trying to grow too). We need to see the path that will take us where we want to be.
- Follow His instructions. God gives us pretty clear instructions. Last week we talked about being disciplined by the Lord and holiness (Hebrews 12:5-11) the very next verse says…
“So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!” (Hebrews 12:12 TPT).
In other words, when your arms feel weak, lift them up a little longer towards Heaven and God will make you strong. When your knees are weak, keep walking and God will make you strong. It is completely counter intuitive. When I am tired, the verrrry last thing on my mind is to keep moving!
Here are some things I think God’s word instructs us to do/not do:
- Spend time with God. The key to growing in any relationship is to spend time together. Talk to Him, listen to Him, and then do what He is asking you to do.
- Spend time with His family. Get involved a healthy, biblical church. Build relationships with other believers. If I can throw this in here, expect the church to fail and be imperfect. God is perfect, His people are not.
- Dedicate yourself to growth. Read your Bible, journal, get counsel, submit to authority, walk in humility, be aware of the fruit of the spirit that you need to work on, ask God for spiritual gifts, surrender your fears, go on a relaxing walk, etc. Really anything can go in this category that forms you into who Jesus wants you to be.
- Let go of your sinful desires. See the scripture below. A key place where I have grown is searching my heart for lies that I have believed about myself and/or the Lord. (Ex: He doesn’t really protect me, I’ll never measure up.) Agreeing with lies is sinful because we are agreeing with the liar (satan). You might look at the list below and not be dealing with something listed but have a mind full of lies that you’ve built your theology upon. Confess them, repent, and believe the truth found in God’s word.
“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom,” (Galatians 5:19-21 MSG).
I hope that you are not hearing condemnation from this. But I do hope you hear me say that discipleship is not an option. We represent Jesus to a world who needs to be introduced to Him. He has chosen to make us His ambassadors. We have to be living in a way that shows evidence of His transformation in us.
If you love Jesus but are addicted to pornography or pain pills, Jesus can and will set you free. Let’s get some help and begin working on that. If you love Jesus but you aren’t a nice person and can’t be cut off in traffic without flipping someone off, then let’s talk about that.
We all have areas in our lives where we have chosen to accept less than God’s best for us. And one of the saddest lies I think our culture has believed is that people can’t really change. In and of themselves, we can’t, but in relationship with Jesus and surrendered to the Holy Spirit, we can’t help but change. He will not leave us the same.
I have made us a worksheet so that we can spend some time working through this with Jesus. Danger Ahead Growth Chart
“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Challenged to grow,