Powerful words for Men and Women Living In Christ
In the masterfully crafted expressions of the palate, passion, and creative vision of an inspired chef, I’ve grown to appreciate cooking as an art form. One of the great aspects of living in an ethnically diverse neighbourhood is that it’s easy to discover new food experiences created by chefs inspired by traditions from around the globe.
I’m a foodie (not a chef), and yet I love the challenge that comes with recreating in my kitchen the world of flavours I discover in unique dishes that arrest my palate. But before I attempt to prepare any dish that takes me beyond the scope of my culinary competence, I glean insight through conversation with people who do cook and eat a particular dish on a more regular basis than myself. I research its peculiar spices, exotic ingredients, cooking methods, recipe variations, garnish and presentation, tips and techniques, even proper equipment and utensils. But it’s not my new steamer that has now perfected my Lo Bak Go (Chinese Turnip Cake).
I’ve learned the wisdom in following instruction, but I’ve also come to understand that perfecting a dish is a process of study, application, and fine-tuning until the culinary masterpiece I’m aiming for takes shape. As with every human endeavour, proficiency comes through our decision to actively and continuously engage in the learning process.
Different seasons in our walk with the Lord take us through grounds of different Christian communities, giving us valuable experience in fields of Christian service that although are diverse in culture, tradition and practice, all hold to “Statements of Faith” clarifying Christianity as based on the supreme and final authority of the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God – the Holy Bible.
The Word of God is central to God-centred living.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-4, 14 NKJV)
Jesus Christ, the living Word, is the substance of God’s self-revelation, and a personal encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ prompts a radical change of direction. For me, and from the earliest days of my encounter (as an adult yet mere infant in Christ), I reached for the “Good Book” with a voracious appetite.
“Like newborn babies you should long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may be nurtured and grow in respect to salvation – its ultimate fulfillment.” (1 Peter 2:2 AMP).
And in lapping-it-up, I heard the New Testament exhortation to mature along the Way, as loud and clear as church bells sound the call to worship on a Sunday morning. It struck me that it was up to me to take personal responsibility for my growth and development in the Lord, by actively engaging in a learning process through continuous study, application in daily life, and allowing the Holy Spirit to fine-tune my understanding as I progress, step-by-step-by-step….
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:10 NKJV)
Growing in the knowledge of God toward spiritual maturity is a dominant theme in the New Testament that conveys the same wisdom to believers in different churches in different regions facing different circumstances. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul advises that knowledge develops in our lives as we respond in obedience; as study and application work hand-in-hand, a mature understanding of the Word takes shape.
“Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman tested by trial who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP)
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul’s plea moves me to aim for maturity vital to keeping me grounded and stable in the faith. Paul prays that his readers – so richly blessed by God who has raised us from spiritual death and exalted us with Christ – will learn the hope to which God has called us, the riches of His inheritance in us, and His incomparable power that energizes us (Ephesians 1:16-20).
This passionate prayer for our growth in the knowledge of God echoes in his letters to the Philippians (1:9), Colossians (1:9-10) and to Philemon (1:6). In Romans 10:1-2, from a heart that yearns and fuels his prayers for the salvation of his own countrymen, Paul observes their zeal and enthusiasm for God is not enlightened according to knowledge.
The Apostle Peter assures us that through the knowledge of Him who called us, we’ve been given all we need for life, and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
F. F. Bruce, renowned biblical scholar and prolific author whose voice is recognized for shaping evangelicals, is often cited as saying, “Throughout time and in eternity the church, this society of pardoned rebels, is designed by God to be the masterpiece of His goodness.”1
And yet, along the Way, we’re faced with the sobering reality that many of the fields of service through which God leads us are marked by famine; bodies parched and emaciating from lack of knowledge. Immaturity stemming from biblical illiteracy may be the greatest challenge the post-modern church in North America faces today.
It’s not the eloquence of a preacher, or a pastor who “rocks”, or the strength of a praise team, or the size of a congregation that draws people on the outside into the Kingdom. Yet, it’s in this type of Christian culture where focus on service production, conferences, events, branding, merchandising, fundraising and pet-projects tends to far outweigh tending to the needs of the poor and marginalized in the communities surrounding us; the people we’re appointed to serve. In this type of self-serving environment, drifting from the heart of the Gospel the life of Jesus exemplifies, the immature (often oblivious to their own spiritual poverty) are free to hide behind pretence, and may even be placed in positions of leadership and authority to the detriment of the body.
It is only Christ-likeness that draws people to Christ.
In light of this reality, may we awaken with a divinely inspired appetite for the Word of the Lord, aiming for maturity in the knowledge of God as revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, continually shaped by the hand of the Master into the likeness of His Son; true, living expressions of God’s vision.
Mo Morrison (M.Div. and BA in Christian Counseling) is a Spiritual Director in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery with Dayspring Christian Church in Brampton, Ontario. She blogs at Shake The Tree, a place of observation, reflection and comment from a Christian perspective. Connect with Mo on Twitter @ShakeTheTree7 and FB: Shake The Tree.
1 F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1984)