In recent years, the average attention span has gotten shorter, and many pastors are truncating their sermons to accommodate their audience. But the church isn’t meant to be an audience…it’s a family!
In Israel's northern city of Caesarea Philippi, among the ruins of a worship centre dedicated to the Greek god Pan, a cave exists that was long believed by those who worshipped there to be the doorway into the netherworld. It was in the vicinity of this grotto, the alleged gateway to hell, that Jesus promised: "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18).
From Pentecost in the first century to the present day, Satan has attempted to destroy Christ's Church—yet it endures. From a small group of Jewish outsiders in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, Christ built His Church to reach even the remotest parts of the world. Despite controversies, wars, and denominational splits, the Church continues to be the means through which God announces to a dark and dying world that light and life have come in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For these reasons, and many more, we learn about and appreciate the body of Christ, the Church.
Even though we can never say that we have “arrived,” there are some checkpoints by which we are able to measure our maturity. They are set forth in the first major section of Peter's second letter. Beginning with faith (2 Peter 1:5) and ending with love (1:7), you will find eight qualities, which deserve our most diligent effort.
Out of the rich book of Psalms, we find an ancient hymn—a prayer, a passionate petition—in which David makes a series of requests and statements that reveal a level of maturity admired by all. For a few moments, read over and meditate on Psalm 26. Observe the composer's major theme as well as his unguarded admissions. See if you can discover for yourself the relevance of this melodic revelation.
Although most of the stories revolving around David's experiences are fairly familiar to us today, this one may not be. Because it holds within it several truths that illustrate the marks of maturity in a believer's life, it seems fitting that we blow the dust off this ancient account and consider its value in our lives today. As we think it through and relive its scenes, let's not miss its message to we who are pressing on to maturity.
As we enter adulthood in our faith, one of the most significant realizations to dawn upon us is a healthy understanding of and appreciation for the church. Most go through real battles in coming to this conclusion. In this message, we want to come to terms with the role of the church, its importance in our lives, some of the major reasons for its effectiveness, and why Christ established it in the first place.
Tough though it may be to admit it, most of us resist growing up. We say all the things that suggest otherwise, but in reality, we resist launching out into the ocean of adulthood. It seems only logical that we spend a little while analyzing why there is such a strong resistance within us to move on into the responsibilities and challenges of adulthood.
If we are not careful we could easily get the impression that adolescence is a disease with headaches and heartaches, pressure and pain as its only symptoms. Not so! Adjustments and struggles may be present, but not to the exclusion of tremendous growth and remarkable achievements. These can be some of the most exciting years of one's spiritual pilgrimage.
The more we study the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” the more we understand what we are dealing with. Although the name is new, the problem is old. In fact, we can trace its roots all the way back to the fall of man in the garden. As we shall see, not even the early church was free of this insidious problem.
Although young in the faith, those Jerusalem believers demonstrated a commendable growth toward maturity. But this condition was not found throughout all congregations. As is true today, there were some who were old enough to be well on their way to maturity, but they preferred to remain immature and irresponsible…adolescents in adult bodies.
One of the most remarkable eras in the history of the church occurred during the first century. Shortly after Christ had left the earth, His disciples (who became apostles) led congregations into new and exciting vistas of faith. Though young and relatively inexperienced, the believers who comprised the first-century church showed evident marks of maturity…the children were now growing into adolescence!