The Process of Christian Maturity
In this chapter, we are going to evaluate a statement made by the apostle Paul as recorded in Colossians 1:9-12. There is great insight about the process of Christian maturity found in these words. As emphasized when considering Luke 2:52, the Christian life is to be characterized by growth. This passage hints at components that can be found in one’s growth experience.
Before considering the components associated with Christian growth, there are two thoughts worth probing. First, as Paul indicates that he is responding to something he heard (“…since the day we heard of it…”). Verse four informs us that he heard of their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for all the saints. The news that there was a group of people who had experienced conversion to Christ in the hostile environment of the first century was tremendous. This was not a casual affair; it required serious commitment as one stood the chance of being rejected by their family and community, and faced the risk of death by the Jews or the Romans.
Diverging slightly, consider a passage 21st century readers in a western culture would tend to view too lightly. Paul wrote, “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Ro.10:9-10). Imagine a young Jewish person becoming convinced in the deepest recesses of their being (“believe in your heart”) that Jesus is Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. With this conviction, he / she stands in the midst of the assembly in their local synagogue and verbally declares their conviction (“confess with your mouth”). What awaits them is not a warm reception from other young believers, rejoicing over his or her new-found faith. They are met with hostile rejection that could result in death by stoning or, at the very least, excommunication from family, friends and the Jewish community. Along with this is the demand of the Roman authorities to acknowledge Caesar as Lord. Refusal to do so due to commitment to Jesus as Lord, places them at risk of potential death at the hands of the Romans, who had begun cruel persecution of Christians. It is good to recall the level of commitment associated with the words written in Ro.10:9-10 as we have a tendency to use them in a rather shallow way. In our age, it might be more characteristic of a Muslim in an Arab nation declaring their conversion to Christianity in the local gathering at the mosque. It is to such people that Paul writes the words we are about to consider.
Next, it is worth noting that Paul indicates the words found in this passage are descriptive of how he is praying for these converts. That being the case, we see a prayer that is characteristic of Paul’s understanding of the growth process he desires them to experience. Here, I am reminded of Paul’s words (to a significant degree, words of correction) to the Corinthian church as he writes, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind (understanding – KJV) is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind (understanding – KJV) also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind (understanding – KJV) also” (1Co.14:14-15). What we see described as elements of Paul’s prayer in the Colossian passage is praying with understanding.
Filled with the Knowledge of His Will
The first thing Paul’s reveals is that he prays that the new believers “may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” This is a bold request and a tremendous step in the growth process. We will proceed with this consideration in our next post.
 “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk.2:52). See the fifth chapter in the second book of the Equipping the Saints series, Change Your Mind.