Many Christians and many churches are good about asking other people to turn to Christ, to express faith in him, to be redeemed and reborn. However, our task as followers of Christ goes beyond that: we must constantly be involved in the work of discipleship, maturing in the faith and becoming more like the Lord.
I was reminded of this while reading Dr. Gil Stafford’s new book “Signals at the Crossroads,” which is a compilation of his two earlier “Crossroads” books with some new material he was writing at the time of his death. In this book, Stafford mentions the preachers in the Methodist movement, which began in the early 1800s. These preachers were very concerned not just with a person’s conversion to Christ but a person’s maturity in Christ. One of the questions they asked frequently of their congregations was this: “How is it with your soul?”
Often we are content – or we imagine we would be content – with pews filled with warm bodies. Is that our goal? Are we pleased with numerical church growth? I think we should strive for that, yes! We should continually reach out to our community so that more sheep might be brought into the Lord’s flock. We certainly are called to make more disciples.
But of course the work does not stop there. We are called to make better disciples, as well. Once a person commits to Christ and begins attending church, the process of growth has begun. That process, rightly understood, is never fully completed; each of us should continue to grow in Christ month after month, year after year. Personal challenges must be overcome. Our impulses and desires must be brought under control in the name of Christ. Our relationships must be transformed to reflect the love of Christ to each other and to the world.
Each of us is on this journey of growth toward maturity. None of us has arrived, because none of us is completely like Christ yet. Part of our work as the church is to spur each other on to greater heights of discipleship. We walk together and support one another as one body while we draw closer to the Lord.
So, fellow believer, consider this question prayerfully today: How is it with your soul? And the follow-up is this: with whom will you share your answer to that question?