Stages of Faith – Part 5

Message: Stage 5: Giving Your Life Away

Scripture Text: Deuteronomy 31:7 Stage 1 – Child – Needing Help Stage 2 – Youth – Heading Out On Your Own Stage 3 – Young Adult – Finding Your Purpose Stage 4 – Adult– Gaining Wisdom Stage 5 – Maturity– Giving Your Life Away

1. In seminary I was introduced to a book written by James Fowler called Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning

2.

a. Fowler observed that people’s faith and spirituality grows through stages, much like people themselves do.

Handout summary of stages

b. Childhood is being dependent on God and others to show you what to believe and do.

c. Teenager stage is when you disengage from others’ faith and head out to find your own faith.

d. Young Adult is when you discover your gifts and calling and put your faith into action.

e. Adult stage is confronting the complexity

of life by discovering how it can be shared with God and others.

3. Stage 5 – we’ll call “maturity.”

a. In our older adult or “mature” years we tend to think we’re getting past our prime.

 

 An elderly man visits the doctor for a checkup. “Mr. Smith, you’re in great shape,” says the doctor afterward. “How do you do it?”

 “Well,” says Mr. Smith, “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and the good Lord looks out for me. For weeks now, every time I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he turns the light on for me.”

 Concerned, the doctor finds Mrs. Smith in the waiting room and tells her what her husband said.

 “I don’t think that’s anything to worry about,” she says. “And on the bright side, it does explain who’s been peeing in the fridge.”

b. A key experience at this stage of life is downsizing: house, children in the house, workload, responsibilities, physical and mental exertion.

4. Actually, for faith development, maturity is the ultimate, the biggest, the high point.

a. Read Eph 4:13-14

b. Fowler described this stage with the word “Universalization” – when a person gets to the point where he or she sees everything and everyone through eyes of faith.

 It turns out that at this stage of faith you are also downsizing, but in the process you find yourself at your

greatest.

5. Let’s do one more story about Moses. We find him at the end of life, being downsized.

a. Read Deuteronomy 3

 God is taking away from Moses the dream of getting to the Promised Land: his ultimate goal for over 40 years.

 He can only stand on a mountain and look at it.

b. Read

Deuteromony 31

 In front of entire people, Moses summons younger Joshua to take his place,

pours his dreams into him.

6. At this stage, a person of faith is so full of faith they are able to give themselves away.

a. Spiritually strong and secure, they are able to sacrifice themselves so God and others can be glorified and blessed.

 

 Read Romans 12:1,

 Hebrews 13:16

b. Christians call spiritual maturity

“Christlikeness.”

 When we are born, we carry the image of God. Yet we also have the image of the first human, Adam, who in his pride and insecurity rejected God and burdened himself with guilt, shame and, ultimately, spiritual death.

 Jesus Christ, the son of God, sacrificed himself to death on the cross to remove our spiritual death and restore the image of God.

1. So when we die, the image of God is completed.

 In between, the Holy Spirit is growing us through the stages into greater Christlikeness.

 More and more you are found “In” Christ, and sacrifice yourself to fully

identify with Christ.

c. CS Lewis said, “Putting on Christ’…is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all.”

 Mature Christians I have known have emptied themselves so Christ can

come in and have all the space He needs to turn their life into His.

7. With this sacrifice comes suffering, just as it did for Jesus.

 

a. Jesus told Peter, “when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

 He was talking about

Peter’s eventual martyrdom.

 Just as old age brings loss, mature Christians I have known have sacrificed wealth, safety, time, comfort, and status for Christ.

8. But a life sacrificed to Christ is always a glad and joyful life. Some of my favorite laughs

come from some of the most mature Christians I have known.

a. Writer Kurt Vonnegut said, “Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything. Kurt Vonnegut

b. Great Christian writer AW Tozer said, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great

deal of anxiety.”

c. Mature Christians I have known are filled with grace, acceptance, laugh at God, others and especially themselves;and seem to weep more tears of joy and wonder than despair or frustration.

9. So some Questions for you to think about:

a. What stage are you right now?

b. Do you need to double back and have an experience you skipped or missed in a previous stage?

c. Do you know a

stage 5 person – are you spending time with them?

10. Prayer

 

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