Mature in Christ
by Burk Parsons
One of the greatest joys of pastoral ministry is preaching the Word of God to the people of God every Lord’s Day, morning and evening. However, it is also one of the greatest challenges of pastoral ministry. The challenge is not only in the enjoyable and arduous task of sermon preparation, nor is it merely in the spiritual, emotional, and physiological strain of preaching. The challenge also comes in expositing and carefully applying the Word of God to the entire congregation—to mature believers and to new believers, to believers who are weak in the faith and to believers who are strong in the faith; to people of various races, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds; and to adults and to children. I am certain that I will find it a challenge to preach to the entirety of our congregation as long as the Lord sustains me in pastoral ministry. Thankfully, I have had the wonderful opportunity to be mentored by one of the most articulate communicators of our day, Dr. R.C. Sproul. His example of preaching to the entirety of the congregation is one that many faithful pastors have sought to follow.
Striving to communicate to everyone in the congregation is no easy task, and from beginning to end, we who preach are resting in the Holy Spirit to take the Word of God and instill it within and apply it to the hearts of His people. And it is our unwavering belief that the Holy Spirit can regenerate the hearts not only of adults, but of children as well. Thus, we strive to communicate to both young and old. In our congregation, that means that the older must always strive to be patient with the younger, and the younger must always strive to honor the older. For this is one of the ways that our children grow in maturity. We certainly want kids to be kids, but we don’t want them to remain kids. We want them to grow up to be young men and women who are mature in Christ and mature in all spheres of life.
Paul said to young Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Even the youngest believers can attain and model emotional and spiritual maturity, for maturity is not a matter of age. Some of the youngest among us are the most mature and some of the oldest are the least mature. Young and old alike, God calls all His people to grow into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), and this not so people will exalt us but so they will exalt our risen and returning Savior, as we strive to live as mature believers, looking to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.