Avatar and Becoming Mature in Christ
What a not-so-Christian movie says about the goal of the Christian life.

I have been thinking a lot lately about Colossians 1, where Paul writes: "We proclaim Christ, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this reason I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." It strikes me that this comes close to a creedal text for those of us involved in church ministry. Sometimes we get so immersed in the X's and O's of church work that we forget to step back and ask what 's the real reason we're doing all this. Paul has great clarity on it, and is more concise than usual: "so that we may present everyone mature in Christ."

If your church is looking for a big hairy audacious goal, this will do for starters.

The scale: everyone.

The outcome: mature in Christ.

That's not common language in our day. So recently I have asked church leaders in a number of settings to take a few moments to describe what someone who is "mature in Christ" looks like. Certain words always make the list: loving, joyful, peaceful, forgiving, serving, courageous, loyal, humble, generous.

And when "mature in Christ" is explained in those terms, there are not many people who are uninterested. This offer has remarkably broad appeal. I went with a friend to see Avatar last week. The 3-D thing is pretty cool. The writer does not actually attach a denominational label to the script, but it was pretty obviously not produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. However, the qualities in the heroes are remarkably consistent with many of the words listed by church leaders: courageous, loving, giving, loyal, generous. What it means to be a good person has been embedded by God pretty deeply into human consciousness.

How we get there is another matter.

Then I'll ask this question: do you think the average unchurched person in America thinks of these characteristics when they hear the word "Christian"? Not so much.

Here's another question (you can try this one at home, or with your elders if you're feeling perky): on a scale of 1-100, how is your church doing at producing this kind of person? It's a funny thing how often we're aware of our attendance trends or how close to budget we're running, but we often have not worked much to assess the real target we're aiming at.

Sometimes we're not even clear that this is the goal. I was talking to a church leader from a European country recently, who commented on a difficult dynamic where he lives. It is expected that the state will pretty much care for all human needs—the alleviation of poverty, provision of care for the sick, needy, and elderly, and so on. There is little or no expectation that the church will be involved in such issues.

February 17, 2010

Displaying 1–6 of 6 comments

nokia tema

February 20, 2010  7:10pm

good article ;)

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m3 real cartucho

February 20, 2010  5:35am

to present everyone mature in Christ..this the motivation and must be have in all church and all leader must be obey to this rules!It will helps to back the trust on Christ!

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Joseph Wong

February 20, 2010  12:44am

I find myself disagreeing with brother John. Here, Good, is defined as character qualities which are manifested in human relationships. These good are found in many cultures, not necessarily in Christ. Is being a good citizen the same as being mature, "In Christ?" Remember, the apostle Paul includes the concept of 'spiritual' in being mature. Being spiritual is contrasted with the natural man's condition, being carnal. This is the missing ingredient in the article, being mature, spiritually, in Christ. Let's approach Colossians 1, again, by describing what a spiritually mature Christian, looks like?

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len

February 19, 2010  1:52pm

Bang on. I often frame this in terms of leadership: we lead from where the future - where we want to end up. God's vision of a new humanity.

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Tim

February 19, 2010  1:04am

It's interesting to me to hear leaders talk about how widespread spiritual immaturity is in American believers even though billions of "giving" dollars are devoted to hire teaching experts (1 per 150) and billions of "giving" dollars are devoted to build facilities for institutionalized gatherings, yet none of them are willing to honestly check the institutionalized system to see where it nullifies the commands of God. Understanding the scripture that guides us outside the box of institution driven church is impossible for them.

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Dan (Grace Freak)

February 17, 2010  7:31pm

John, Your comments are laser clear and shockingly convicting. The first few paragraphs drew blood. You drive me back to a fundamental principle that sustains and motivates. "Fruit follows filling." You drive me to refocus on Jesus and trust in his Spirit. I wrote about Fruit Follows Filling. Maybe it will be useful to your readers. http://gracefreakdan.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/fruit-follows-filling/ You drive me to stop playing at Christianity and start being a Christian. Regards, Grace Freak Dan Rockwell

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