Yesterday, Pastor John Shepherd wrapped up our Evolution message series. I always love listening to my husband teach, but listening to our other Pastors speak is a treat, too. Yesterday was no exception.
In this series, we’ve explained that people experience an evolution – a change – in their lives as they grow in their relationship with God. The evolution is not an overnight experience, either. No, it is a process that was designed to take a lifetime. That’s right. Our lives are simply our chance to get to know God. We often make it more complicated than it really is.
John summed up the process of evolution nicely. He clarified 3 stages of the Christian life. Here they are:
1. The It’s-All-About-Me Stage: These are new believers who are following after God because they will receive some benefit, like forgiveness, peace, or strength to overcome a weakness. John related this stage to a baby. We all start here.
2. The It’s-Tough-Being-Me Stage: These are people who have realized that being a Believer doesn’t make life perfect. Their weaknesses are rising to the surface as God reveals character flaws and sins. As a matter of fact, they sometimes feel that life has gotten worse, not better, since becoming a follower of God. So, it’s tough. They don’t realize that this pain is part of the process of God refining them and helping them become more like His Son. John compared this stage to being a teenager. Teenagers are growing and learning but are also faced with incredible challenges as they mature. Remember how tough those years were?
3. The It’s-No-Longer-About-Me Stage: Ah, the adult stage. These people are the ones who’ve realized the goal is to love and serve others. They no longer have a me-centered view of Christianity, and they willingly submit their desires to God. They are what I often refer to as “seasoned Believers.”
Most of us have no problem with the first two stages. As a matter of fact, in all my years of ministry I’ve seen a lot of people who live in one of those two stages. The third stage, however, is more rare. It’s not supposed to be. Jesus desires that we ALL become mature in our faith, lacking nothing. We were meant to evolve from stage to stage consistently growing and becoming more like our Heavenly Father. So, how do we evolve from stage 2 to stage 3? John gave the answer.
Somewhere along the way, your faith must move from your heart to your will.
The mature Christians – the seasoned Believers – make a decision at some point in their journey of faith. They choose to follow God no matter what. No matter how they feel about their circumstances. No matter if life is difficult. No matter if someone else is mentoring them. No matter if everything in their life makes sense. Even when they can’t see God’s plan, they still follow. You see, that kind of Believer doesn’t rely whether it feels good to be a Christian. They simply want to be used by God and serve Him.
So, in which stage are you? There’s no shame in any stage. If you are a new Believer, soak in all the teaching you gain during Sunday worship services and find mentors to guide you. If life is tough because you are facing your weaknesses and learning to overcome sin, connect with Believers who have walked with the Lord longer than you have. You’ll be sharpened. If you are a seasoned Believer, keep an eye out for those who need you. Your goal is to love and serve God by loving and serving His people.
Whichever stage you’re in, EVOLVE! Grow. Stretch your faith. Become more like Jesus. You only have one lifetime. Make the most of it!
You can watch the entire message here this week or in the MLC archives after that.