As we continue to dig into what unity means, we keep taking our lessons from Francis Chan and his book, “Until Unity”. His statements on maturity are so good that many of his quotes must be included here.
Unity is measured by our maturity
When you observe a fellow believer, how do you size up their maturity?
They know a lot of scripture….or….their worship is very intense…..or they serve all the time! Wow! They must be really a mature Christian!
There’s actually a whole lot more to measuring someone’s maturity than what they know or what they do.
Mature Christians are United Christians
How unified we are in the church is directly related to how mature we are as believers. Mature Christians are united Christians. The two are intricately intertwined. Something happens when we grow as mature followers of Christ. Our unity with other believers grows as well. It just flows.
So it seems that so much of our division today is still a result of our lack of maturity.
Division and lack of maturity are nothing new. Many of Paul’s letters to New Testament churches instructed and encouraged them to develop more unity while growing in maturity. And it seems we continue with the same malady today.
So, what can we do to help people to mature? Discipleship.
Maturity comes from discipleship
Leaders in the church help people grow in discipleship by equipping them to minister and serve which will result in unity. Developing unity can be tricky to actually nail down. What does it look like? How do we do this? Remembering Paul’s instruction in Ephesians will help:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesian 4:11-13
We can’t make people BE more mature or unified, but we can equip them to serve so that the body of Christ is built up.
As Francis Chan says, “Our job is to get people into this mind-set.” pg 135
Discipleship is Living like Jesus did
Discipleship is NOT just information transfer
A couple of years ago, I began a new ministry role at my church as director of discipleship. I had never served in this capacity before so I had a lot of learning to do. What I learned is that I had been doing discipleship all wrong. I believed being a disciple of Jesus meant going to church a lot, doing lots of ministry to people (singing, teaching, etc), and lots of studying of the Bible. That’s great because I LOVED doing all those things. Give me a good Beth Moore study, lots of church activities, and some really awesome praise and worship services! I’m in!
Over the years, I knew lots of things. I did lots of things. I experienced lots of things. I thought I was a mature follower of Christ. So, when my new ministry role was to help lead our church in discipling others, I thought, “Yep, I’ve got this!’
Boy, was I wrong!
What I’ve discovered is that discipleship includes all those things, but that’s not the real journey of discipleship. Discipleship comes from following Jesus and living life together following Jesus. Not just learning more about Jesus and not just doing lots of stuff for Jesus. Real discipleship is learning to live the way Jesus lived. And, real discipleship eventually leads to discipling others.
So how did Jesus disciple people?
“Jesus modeled these characteristics while He walked alongside His disciples. They learned love by watching Him love. True discipleship involves living life together, caring for the lost and hurting together, and experiencing victories and disappointments together.” pg 122-123Until Unity
Sure, bible studies and worship services are included in this journey, but doing life together is where real discipleship happens. We need to do life together like Jesus did!
The place where most people veer off the path to maturity is at the point where they must begin discipling others and walking deeply with other believers.” pg 134Until Unity
In other words, here’s where we find the point of breaking down in our path to unity. Discipleship doesn’t happen because we think maturity means we need to learn more about Jesus. Then, maturity doesn’t happen because we’re so busy doing stuff or acquiring knowledge that we get stuck in a place of learning. Then, unity doesn’t happen because we aren’t really living like Jesus.
Francis Chan further puts it like this:
“But many never reach maturity because they never lead others. Instead of becoming teachers, they stay in a constant state of learning (Hebrews 5:12).” pg 125
When we equate maturity with knowledge, it’s easy to justify a life spent acquiring knowledge and finding fault with others.” pg 136
“As a result, we have people who see themselves as mature because they know so many things about Scripture but their lives look nothing like that of Christ. They don’t take steps of faith, risking their lives and livelihoods for the sake of the gospel.” pg 125Until Unity
What is the real measure of maturity which results in unity?
“Living in love is what actual maturity looks like.” pg 136
In essence, real discipleship and maturity look like love.
“This is what God wants: groups of mature believers who show the world supernatural love for each other. The love component of church is not negotiable. Too often we treat community and discipleship as optional add-ons that are available for those who are interested in that kind of thing.” pg 132
“That’s crazy!! Love is supposed to be the point of church! Joining the church is supposed to be joining into this incredible oneness with God and each other. The more mature a church becomes, the deeper their love will be. Our misunderstanding of maturity has left the church immature.” pg 132Until Unity
Love is supposed to be the point!!
To sum it up, unity comes from maturity. Maturity comes from discipleship. The true measure of discipleship is love. Love brings unity.
What can we do to help each other grow in maturity? What can we do to follow Jesus in loving others?
What does loving others look like?
Let’s keep talking over in the WoW Facebook group. Will you join me there?