In the first blog post of this series, we addressed the question of how to become a Christian (see previous blog post entitled “Can I become a Christian?”). In this post, we will focus on what we ought to do once we have become a Christian.
When one becomes a Christian, the Spirit of God, who resides in us, will work in our hearts in order that we can mature as Christians. Christian maturity means becoming more and more like Jesus. That is to say, we do not become Jesus, but we increasingly begin to resemble the character and nature of God as displayed in Jesus. This process takes a lifetime. It is a joyful process; at times it is painful, but it is entirely rewarding and fulfilling. This process of maturity involves three aspects that are critical to the growth and maturity of a Christian. The first one is…
There are various implications for us when we become Christians. One of them is that we are now assimilated into God’s family. We become part of a community that is formed around the good news of the gospel. Part of that good news is that we no longer have to do life on our own, but rather are part of a community that we can do life with, and receive support, encouragement and comfort from. More importantly, in these communities we can begin to discover who God is, and who we are in relation to him as his people. We get to experience God’s character and nature through his people. An example of this would be experiencing God’s generosity through his people, who will be generous with their time and resources in order to love and serve us. Therefore, one of the most important steps that we can take when we become Christians is to join a local church that is faithful to the good news of the gospel.
As part of a local church, the best way to become part of the community is to join a small group of Christians with whom we can do life and grow. At BBC we call our structured small groups Gospel Communities. If you are a Christian at BBC, and are not yet part of a Gospel Community, I would like to highly encourage you to join one. Contact our Gospel Community Pastor, Chris Lejeune on firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will help you do that.
The second critical aspect of our growth is to know God’s Word, commonly known as the Bible. The Bible is God’s gift to us. It tells us who God is. Pastor, theologian and author Tony Merida says, “when we open the word of God, we are opening the mouth of God”. In other words, if we want to know God and hear from Him, we need to be reading the Bible and studying it.
The Bible also tells us how we should be living as the people of God. The Bible is our “true north” and ultimate source of wisdom. It is very difficult for us to mature as Christians without knowing God through his Word. The two go hand in hand. For some of us, just opening the Bible can be daunting, because we don’t know where to start or how to read it in a meaningful way. To help you start the process in a non-threatening and helpful way, we have designed two courses: Bible 101 & Bible 201. We run these a few times a year, so look out for the next one and sign up, if this is for you.
The third critical aspect to our growth as Christians, is to be part of a regular gathering of the church on Sundays. God’s people gather regularly on a Sunday to worship him. This worship includes singing songs of praise and adoration to him, listening to the preaching of God’s Word, engaging in prayer, and enjoying each other’s company. The Sunday gathering is reflective of the picture of heaven as portrayed by the Apostle John in Revelation 7:9-12, where people from every nation, tribe and tongue gather in front of God’s throne and worship him. When God’s people gather on a Sunday, there is a profoundness to it that is unique. We get to experience the very real and tangible presence of God when we sing to him in worship, hear from him through the preaching, and engage with his people through fellowship. Furthermore, the sheer diversity of people in these gatherings enables God’s people to experience God’s creativity.
The writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us: “23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (ESV). This passage emphasizes the critical nature of God’s people gathering together because it stirs up our faith, encourages us, and inspires us to live out the Christian life amid the challenges and struggles of the world.
The three critical elements of God’s Community, God’s Word, and God’s Gathering are essential for the life, vitality and growth of a Christian. These are the next steps after one becomes a Christian (“Christ-follower”), which will form the necessary rhythms for the rest of our Christian life. There are other elements to our relationship with God that will help to grow and strengthen us, but getting these foundational rhythms in place will set us on the right course, and keep us from wavering over the long haul. When we mature in our faith and become more and more like Jesus, we then become valuable instruments that God can use as he renews the world through his people.
My prayer is that you will continue to grow and mature as a follower of Jesus, enjoy him more each day, and be used greatly by him in the world.
If you would like to read more about what to do at the start of your new faith journey with Jesus, I would encourage you to buy one of these books and or read the article listed below:
- The Walk - Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus by Stephen Smallman (Available for purchase on Loot)
- Now That I'm a Christian - What It Means to Follow Jesus by C. Michael Patton (Available for purchase on Loot)
- Article by Robert Velarde - First Steps in the Christian Life
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.