Is spiritual maturity—becoming like Jesus Christ—only for spiritual superstars? Is there a Christian Hall of Fame reserved just for the apostles, top theologians, martyrs, and missionaries?
No. God calls all of us to experience that wonderful, mysterious spiritual metamorphosis that starts when we give our lives to Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
But a quick reality check in the Church, and throughout Church history, confirms the sad truth that many of us don’t look like “new creatures.”
We may have genuinely come to Christ, and honestly love God. We may have had some initial outward changes, and a few inward ones. But the metamorphosis toward spiritual maturity has stopped.
Dealing with deep issues of the heart—fears, rejection, workaholism, family of origin dysfunction—is hard and painful and some of us have simply given up. We no longer feel the liberating freedom and power of walking intimately with Christ. As a result, we have turned inward, even if outwardly we’re projecting a “good Christian” persona.
So the question is, why don’t we change? What is the barrier, the missing piece, the gap in our understanding?
I believe one of the key reasons is this: spiritual isolation.
Many of us are not truly living as part of the Body of Christ—in community with other broken and redeemed believers.
It’s in community where the real you shows up. It’s in community where your real needs are revealed in the right way among the right people. It’s in community where you experience Christ’s love through the hands and hearts and words and wisdom of brothers and sisters who accept you and hold you accountable and compel you toward Christ-like change.
In Ephesians 4, Paul is talking about how Jesus designed the different roles in His Church (for example, evangelists, pastors, teachers) to equip us so that we could “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13).
Then he writes,
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching. . . . 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. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:14-16).
Do you see? If you are in Christ, you are a crucial part of His Body. And all the other parts of His Body—the Church—are designed to help you change!
How marvelously hopeful it is to realize that God wants us to change–to become more like Jesus–and has equipped His Church to make it happen!
He has not given us an order and then abandoned us. He has provided the tools and the power for spiritual maturity. For metamorphosis. Now it’s up to us to act on them.
Today, evaluate just where you are in terms of living as part of a community of believers. Check just how vulnerable you are willing to be with your brothers and sisters. Ask God to make it clear what your next step should be. Because, rest assured, He wants you to change!
Then, at the end of our lives, we can join the apostle John and say,
“We do not know, little children, what we will be like, but this is what we know: When we see Him, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:1-2).
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip