Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Be Rooted Imitators With a Mind in Heaven

Today is day three in a short series of post based on Hebrews 13 and a post from 2013 called "10 Signs of a Mature Christian."  Let's continue to look at what Hebrews 13 says about being a maturing Christian.

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.  It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.  We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.  And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood.  Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.  For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come."  Hebrews 13:7-14

Mature Christians are:

Imitators of those ahead of them on the path.

Do you have someone whose life you watch?  Are you mentored by someone?  Does your local church have avenues for this to happen?

This point was not in the original 2013 list of ten signs of a mature Christian, so I guess we've got eleven now.  I thought about not including it but it is so important.  The writer of Hebrews says to remember their leaders and to consider the way they live and then imitate their lifestyle.  Now, we all are to follow Jesus, but we also need someone to imitate that is striving to imitate Jesus.  We need someone or several someones to watch.  My wife is due soon and I can tell you that I'm watching good, Christian fathers and hoping to imitate what they do well.  Perhaps you watch and imitate from afar; perhaps you ask for a more formal mentorship to be discipled by someone.  See, following Jesus isn't just a series of Bible studies; we all need people we imitate as they bring their faith to bear in their workplace, in the mini-van, in their social media account... we need the lives of solid Christians to imitate.

Then, if the man or woman of faith that you're imitating falls, if they fail (and they most certainly will at least sometimes) we must remember that the ultimate One to imitate is Jesus because He is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Are you humble enough to consider the outcome of someone's life and imitate it?  Are you aware that someone is likely imitating you right now?

Rooted in sound doctrine.

Are you familiar with Christian orthodoxy?  Is your local church committed to sound doctrine or to the latest trend?

Mature Christians study sound doctrine.  Mature Christians know that doctrine isn't just something for seminary students.  Mature Christians, even if they couldn't tell you exactly what's wrong with something, notice when a teaching is off base.

The book of Hebrews was written to a church that was dealing with people that were teaching that the grace of Jesus was not enough, they taught that one needed the grace of Christ and to follow Jewish customs.  The entire book of Hebrews was written to say that if these laws and ceremonies had been good enough then why on earth did Jesus come and die?  Jesus and His blood are enough.  We are to be strengthened by the good doctrine of grace, not by to-do lists.

Parents, are you teaching your kids Jesus' grace or moralism based on a to-do list?  Do you believe in grace for yourself but works for others?  Have you studied the Word enough to know what is the Master's voice and what isn't?  Have you placed yourself under teachers and preachers that are rooted in sound doctrine?

Mature Christians build their house on the Rock of Jesus, not man-made religion.

Prone to think of the Kingdom of God.

Are you Heavenly minded?  Is your local church a place that tunes your heart to think of the Kingdom to come?

Throughout the book of Hebrews the writer makes the point that the Christians with the strongest faith, that is the most active and mature faith, are those Christians who think about "the city that is to come."

If we think of this temporal world we will make decisions based on the limited economy of time and finite resources.  If we think about our eternal home we will make decisions based on the the economy of unlimited time and infinite resources.  If we live for the here and now most often, we will make decision devoid of courage.  When we think primarily of this life we will think of the Christian life as sacrifice; however, if we are Heavenly minded we will think of the Christian life as investing.  Throughout the Scriptures we are told of the mass benefits of following God, most of which will come in the eternal Kingdom of God.  If we don't think of Heaven we will turn tail and run when life gets hard.  We must have our minds fixed on the New Heaven and New Earth more than this earth.

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought the most of the next." C. S. Lewis

Mature Christians see life as it really is, they aren't fooled by the illusion of this present life being all there is.  Maturing Christians are prone to think of the Kingdom of God.

Press on to Christian Maturity.  Imitate those further along the path in a given area of life than you, be rooted in sound doctrine and think of the Kingdom of God today.

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