Loving to Maturity

 Photo by  Karyn Christner

Last week we established that spiritual maturity is much more than just head knowledge. Pastor Dustin wrote that in order for one to be spiritually mature, they must first and foremost love God. Loving God gives us the perfect foundation for growing in our spiritual journey. After we claim that spiritual maturity is impossible without loving God, we must then begin to take next steps, so that our belief can be followed by actions.

In order for this to happen, we must love people. People mean people; everyone, coming from every race, personality, ethnicity and background. At Vintage Church we often say that there are only two types of people in this world: Those who know God and those who do not. This simple truth really narrows things down for us in regards to loving people. As followers of Jesus, loving another follower of Jesus looks very different than following a lost person, but both are just as equally important for our spiritual maturity and obedience to Christ. 

Love the body of Christ

I have found in my life that often times it is more challenging to love Christians than unbelievers. Unbelievers have no conviction of the Spirit, therefore, my expectations are not as high, but all Christians have the same presence of God through the Holy Spirit living in them, yet we still seem to fight, quarrel and embrace conflict with each other. Why is that? At the end of the day, we are all sinful humans, waging war against our flesh and the Spirit as Paul speaks of in Romans 7. The incredible thing about Christians conflicting with each other is that there can and should always be reconciliation. There has to be because the body of Christ is at stake. The body of Christ does not properly function apart from a love for each other. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 Paul shares this truth with the church of Corinth.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but many.
— 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Love the lost

When Christians begin to cultivate a love for other Christians, a love for the lost should begin to overflow as well. This love is so remarkable that there should be no other option but to share it with others who are in desperate need. There are countless Scriptures that speak of the necessity and commandment of loving the world and living a missional lifestyle. Reading these Scriptures and actually living them out are two completely different things.  The “easier said than done” phrase can definitely be said in these cases. 

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount, referencing Christians as salt and light: 

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.
— Matthew 5:13-16

Both salt and light offer something unique, flavor and exposure. As Christians, we have been given the incredible opportunity to bring a sense of flavor and exposure to the world. Only Christ can expose sinful hearts and eternal life, and only the presence of Christ can offer a new, flavorful purpose to those apart from Him. This love can be compared to no other and we have been given the privilege for God’s presence to radiate through our lives. 

Practical love brings about spiritual maturity. If our ultimate goal as Christians is to be like Jesus, we will love each other and we will love the lost.

Check out the previous two posts on spiritual maturity: