This young Christian explained to me that he was helping out a fellow member of his church whose house had caught fire, and was now being remodeled. I, of course, commended him on helping out a fellow Christian. I explained to him that I was a great believer in practical Christianity... putting our faith in action. He asked me exactly what I meant by that statement.
I told him through the years I had seen many examples of Christians who needed help overcoming a problem or addiction. Too many times I had seen brethren who were more than willing to pray for them, and maybe quote a few scriptures, but never actually give them any practical advice on how to apply those scriptures or overcome their problem. This young Christian promptly said, “they should overcome their addictions and get their lives straight before they turn their lives over to the Lord!” -I simply pointed to the cigarette he was holding in his hand.
“When we are reborn, the Lord cleanses our spirit and flushes us clean from sin, but we still wear our earthly flesh. –And as long as we do, we will always being dealing with the problems of the flesh. -Which means if we had an addiction when we turned our lives over to the Lord, we now had the desire for change, but still face the challenge of overcoming the craving of the flesh. (Quick note here: Cravings/addictions are not always alcohol, drugs, or sex. Addictions can include over-eating, or anything that we abuse such as chocolates/sweets, sodas/coffee, and/or cigarettes. –And for most of them, it is the abuse that is the sin) -One of our jobs as more mature Christians, who have already faced similar battles, is to advise, uplift, and encourage those who are going through those trials and tribulations.
Maybe part of the problem that many Christians have is that they do not understand that our Spiritual age is not the same as our Physical age. I have often explained that we go through the same steps to spiritual maturity as we do to reach physical maturity. –First we are born (“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” –John 3:3), we grow into Children of God (["children born not of man..., but born of God” –John 1:13), then become teenagers before continuing to mature into adults (“...speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ " –Ephesians 4:15 ). Usually, as we physically mature, we also gain wisdom gathered from the trials and tribulations we faced and overcome during our life. The same is true in our Spiritual life, but the difference is that we cannot look at someone and tell what stage they are at in their spiritual growth. –Maybe that statement would be clearer if I mentioned that the young Christian I was talking with was sixty-seven years old.
Do you think you would have the spiritual discernment to be able to tell he was a young Christian? -I didn’t... he shared that he had only been a Christian for less than two years during our conversation. Did I think that in those two short two years he ought to have stopped smoking, or been able to overcome any anger issues, alcohol, drug, or sexual addictions during that time period without any stumbles or falls? –I seriously doubt it...but I also have no doubt that he can overcome any problem with Christ’s help eventually. –Eventually? Yes, eventually... too often we try to force our timetable on God, and it just doesn’t work that way. God sees the finished vessel that we will become, and He often uses the trials and tribulations we face on our journey to witness, uplift, and encourage other Christians in their walks. –This is part of our calling as Christians, but often a part in which we also all fall short. Why?
I suspect that most Christians find it difficult to not associate someone’s physical age with their spiritual maturity. –A young man of twenty-three with an earring singing rap cannot be mature as a man in his forties and above! -Or at least, that is what they are thinking... –What this means is we need to learn to not be so quick to judge on appearance and age alone. Some Christians would automatically condemned the young Christian of sixty-seven simply because they believed smoking was a sin, and wouldn’t believe that such a “mature” Christian... if he was a good Christian, would still be smoking.
(Sigh) There are many teachings out there that too many Christians use to attack other Christians. Teachings that drinking is a sin (check the scripture), smoking is a sin (check the scripture), tattoos/piercings are a sin (check the scripture). –They need to check the scriptures to verify what they have been taught, and what they are trying to teach others. There are even Christians out there that believe we can lead perfectly sinless lives –That is not a sign of a mature Christian. I do not say that to offend, but I hope to clarify...
I John 1: 5-10 has been called THE TEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS:
|This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.|
These verses are always meant to be read as a whole... not certain verses taken out of context to prove a point of view.
-So where do you feel that you are at in your Christian Walk? Babe, teenager, or maturing Christian adult? -Are you still full of awe at all the miracles and blessings God bestows every day? Or have you completely read, and have a complete understanding of what the Scriptures are saying? –OR have you figured how that as we grow and learn from the scriptures (striving to imitate Christ’s perfect example) exactly how much more we still need to learn... still need to grow?
In closing, I am going to quote Ephesians 4:13-15. “13 Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (emphasis mine)