The book of James was written by the half-brother of Jesus. James was not a believer in Christ during Christ’s earthly ministry. When the resurrected Christ appeared to James, he became a believer and a leader. As a matter of fact, he became the key leader in the Jerusalem church. Paul calls James “a pillar of the church” (Galatians 2:9). Tradition teaches us that his nickname was “camel’s knees” because of the enormous amount of time he spent on his knees in prayer. He literally had calluses on his knees!
The book of James has been called the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” I have heard this book’s main theme referred to as “Christianity in Overalls.” It’s hard-hitting and practical. Key words include “works” and “faith.” In James, these words are not contradictory, but complementary. James is not just writing about faith and works, but a faith that works. He mentions the word “maturity” at least five times. This word can also be translated as “complete” or “perfect.” Here are the marks of the mature:
A person who is positive under pressure (James 1:2-4, 12)
A person who is sensitive to others (James 2:1-8, 14-16)
A person who has mastered the mouth (James 3:2-11)
A person who is a peacemaker, not a troublemaker (James 4:1-12)
A person who is patient and prayerful (James 5:7, 11, 16)
The reason I mention these marks of maturity warrants an explanation. Most healthy cell churches have an equipping track or a “basepath to maturity.” How a cell church implements this basepath to maturity varies throughout the world. My hunch is that the specific ingredients of such an equipping track is not near as important as the relationship developed between mentor and protege (discipler and disciple) as they journey down this basepath. In other words, the cell church wants to emphasize relational discipleship. Here’s why I mention this to you.
Certainly, there are myriads of other marks of maturity in the scriptures. But, you would have to admit– the five marks of maturity cited above sure do sound, feel and look like …. JESUS. As of late, I’m giving some thought to how I might make these five marks of maturity foundational in my church family’s equipping track. What cell church pastor would not want his/her cell leaders to be “marked” accordingly?
A few questions that should stimulate some discussion within this blogging community:
How would you describe your church family’s basepath to maturity?
Do you change it occasionally?
Are you satisfied with the intended outcome?
Love to hear from you.
In closing, be careful not to use the marks of maturity as a template for others. That will certainly lead you down the road of judgment. Consider them through the lens of personal introspection.