Saturday, June 22, 2024
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSPINNING MY GEARS: Little Children

SPINNING MY GEARS: Little Children

      Is watching a 59-year-old turn 60 or a 9-year-old turn 10 more exciting? While my hitchhiking, dumpster-diving and hoot of a grandmother is probably the exception to this generality, most people would agree that the jump from 9 years old to 10 is more exciting. The Bible compares our spiritual growth to the physical growth we see in our bodies on several occasions. The author of Hebrews exhorts us to grow up so that we might understand more (Heb. 5:11-6:3). John was fond in his letter ministry of the salutation “little children,” revealing his pastoral heart. The question then becomes: “Does watching a young believer grow in their faith get your gears spinning more than observing a seasoned saint mature?”

      Approaching the question analytically, the excitement toward anyone’s maturing faith should be equal. From my heart, though, the milestones at the beginning of someone’s walk with God are truly spectacular. Consider the milestones at the beginning of life — crawling, babbling, walking, talking. Compare those to the milestones on the backend of life.

      Young believers in church are a vital part of a thriving ministry. While family Christmas gatherings are certainly calmer when children are grown, a growing family with nephews and grandchildren breathes excitement into cherished family gatherings. Where are the young Christians in church? What can we do to draw them in? What can we do to help them mature?

         A sobering truth our churches must embrace is that spiritual maturity does not equate to physical, intellectual or social maturity. There are more young Christians in your congregation than you likely realize. Just because the venerated granny has been in the church for the past 70 years does not mean she is a mature saint. Young Christians are among us, watching what we do, observing how we speak, evaluating our lives and emulating our worship. Our obligation is to consider how to encourage and build up these young Christians.

         A humbling reality often prevents sincere discipleship that accomplishes this obligation, though. Maturing Christians easily forget how far they have come since their own salvation. Many people have memorized Eph. 2:8-10 — and for good reason because it’s an extraordinary passage. Is it possible we neglect the preceding seven verses? Paul did not jump to the means of salvation as he greeted the saints in Ephesus without reminding them where they came from. “You were dead,” he said (Eph. 2:1). When mature Christians forget their beginnings, they thwart their own maturation and inhibit their ability to build up other saints.

         A harrowing example to follow is given to the church by Jesus Christ. The gospel of Mark records that after Jesus called Levi to follow him, “he reclined . . . many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples” (Mark 2:15). If the church today remembered the various transformations that overtook their life as Christ renewed their minds, I believe we would be more effective disciple-makers. We proudly acknowledge that sinners were comfortable around Jesus, while perpetually failing to realize that we have contributed to creating an environment that makes people feel uncomfortable.

         An apprehensive balancing act is necessary to follow Jesus’ example faithfully. The Wednesday night Bible study I am a part of has been studying the Life of Christ since October 2022. At the time of writing this article, that’s 60 weeks of study and contemplation! Sinners were comfortable in Jesus’ presence, but Jesus did not excuse their sins. If we approach the issue with too much timidity, Christians fail just as much as they do when they apply too much rigidity. And herein lies the rub — sincere discipleship appreciates the current spiritual maturity of the person being discipled to be gentle and direct (even terse) at their appropriate times.

      Discipleship gets my gears spinning as I realize how impossible it is to navigate the balance necessary to reflect God’s graciousness effectively. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I am reminded of the necessity of prayer as the foundation for an effective ministry. I appeal to the readers of this article to seek spiritual maturity in their congregations. Spiritual maturity is not academic, legalistic, emotive or pragmatic. It is simply a God-fearing, God-centered, God-driven, God-exalting life lived consistently in the presence of many.

Derrick Bremer
Derrick Bremer
Derrick A. Bremer grew up in Northwest Arkansas where he met his wife, Michelle, in their 9th grade English class. Derrick surrendered to the gospel ministry in 2018 at Temple Baptist Church of Rogers, Arkansas under the leadership of pastor Wade Allen. Derrick was ordained in 2020 when he was called to serve as the pastor of Denver Street Baptist Church in Greenwood, AR.