Baby Christians

One of the tricky elements about spiritual development is that unlike physical development where the markers are pretty well known, we are less familiar with the stages of spiritual development. To make matters more difficult, as was stated Sunday, time on task is not an indicator of spiritual maturity. Adding to the messiness, people come to know Jesus at all different ages and circumstances in life. All of this creates a complexity to growth in Christ that deserves our attention. As we progress through the “What Happens Next” series, our attention will be initially occupied with the phases of spiritual development. (Infancy, Childhood, Young Adulthood, Parenthood) As such, the blogs each week will try to establish some key ideas for those in the phase and those working with those in the phase. Or in other words, a sort of “how to” guide for each phase.

Spiritual Infants Are:

  • someone who has come to know new life in Christ, having been born again by the Holy Spirit
  • someone who knows very little of the Bible or its teachings
  • someone who has a very inconsistent application of the Bible to life

Key Characteristics:

  • Ignorance; they don’t know what they don’t know and there is a lot they don’t know
  • Exuberance; they are excited about new life in Jesus
  • Struggle with Assurance; being newly born into God’s family they struggle to know for sure they are saved, finding their feelings/experience in the moment often drive them

Milestones to Aim for:

  • Establishing 1-2 vital relationships with a more mature Christian (to ask questions of, share struggles with, pray with). You should have someone else who is more mature in Jesus than you who does life with you regularly (i.e. a meal, a coffee)
  • Getting plugged into a local church (weekly worship with fellow Christians)
  • Reading one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) in its entirety (with help)

Cautions/Pitfalls:

  • Dying out. Jesus is clear in Mark 4 that someone can accept Him with enthusiasm and then have their faith “choked out” by the concerns of the world. Don’t be a ‘flash in the pan’ Christian. Find people to encourage you on what is a life-long journey. Don’t give up when you fall down. Don’t ditch Jesus because there is stuff you don’t understand yet or doubts and questions you haven’t dealt with yet. Keep on!
  • Here’s a key concept in following Jesus: it’s easier to modify behavior than it is to let Jesus change your motivations. In other words, I can change how I behave without changing how I am on the inside. This external rule keeping is legalism (following rules without being changed on the inside). Legalism can feel like the fast road to maturity, but it’s a trap. Rule keeping externally while being unchanged internally will lead to a whole world of troubles. The chief among them is this: Jesus’ life in you is for transformation from the inside out. When we see our behavior out of line with what the Bible teaches and what our new life in Jesus demands, it’s time for more dependence on Jesus, prayer for internal change and behavior modification. Jesus asks you to follow Him not a set of rules.
  • Unhealthy Dependency. So much heartbreak can come to Christians who in this phase become utterly dependent on ‘hero’ Christians. People who they begin to idolize. People who cannot fail in their minds. Here’s the rub; people will fail. People make bad heroes and even worse ‘gods’. As a “babe in Christ” you are dependent on others. Make sure though that firmly fixed in your mind is this reality there is only One Savior upon whom you are utterly dependent. He is your life-source.
  • Perpetual Infancy. “Ignorance is bliss” or so the saying goes. Sometimes it can start to feel really comfortable to have others take care of you. It can be addicting to get so much attention. It can be nice to say, “I didn’t know better…” You’ve got to grow. If you don’t then you are probably headed the direction of the first of these cautions. If you’ve been a baby for more than a year or so, it’s time to take a hard look at what’s keeping you stuck and start addressing it with urgency. Healthy life matures.

Key Memorization Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17

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