“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Cycle of Life, by Randall D. Kittle

“… grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” — 2 Peter 3:18

In the animated Disney movie The Lion King, one of the main musical numbers is the song “The Circle of Life.” This song focuses on the life flow of one to another in the animal kingdom, and the fact that life continues as animals are born, grow, mature, and then reproduce. While the underlying flavor of this song is somewhat new-age, the truth that it conveys is real. Especially when applied to the Church.

Yes, in the Church there is certainly life that flows one to another. As believers intercede for the lost, and share their lives in service and testimony, the new life within them flows out to others. When believers lay hands and pray for each other, again there is a life-flow as the Spirit of God reaches out to bring love, strength, healing, and hope.

But the real message the Lord wants us to see in these days is not “the circle of life,” but “the cycle of life.” A baby becomes a child who grows to be an adult, a parent, and eventually a grandparent. And it is to be the same for the kingdom of God. Believers are to become disciples who go on to maturity as they begin to possess the fruit of the Spirit and become willing and able to use their spiritual gifts to strengthen others.

All of us who are believers have been “born-again,” and as such we became newborn babes in the kingdom of God. Because of this, we soon discovered that we are children of our heavenly Father — adopted as sons and daughters of the most high God. But the good news does not stop there. We are to grow and mature until we become “parents in the faith.” This involves maturing in the faith by being discipled in the Word of God and the ways of His kingdom.

This is the very place where most churches fail. They have many who are born-again children of God (perhaps even thousands), but none or few ever become spiritual mothers or fathers who can care for and nurture the next generation of little ones. Perhaps this is because we in America have such a strong tendency to devalue, degrade, and even despise the very thought of maturity. Yet according to the Bible, “maturity” is not some curse to be avoided, it is something good we should be pursuing and attaining. In the Word of God, maturity involves both growth and perfection.
Even after becoming spiritual mothers and fathers, believers are then called to become spiritual grandparents, which involves being equipped to utilize the spiritual gifts the Lord has given you until you can help oversee, mentor, and raise up the next group of spiritual parents.

Until a church has those willing to grow and mature and accept the responsibility to become spiritual parents and grandparents, it will only be a large nursery for the spiritual children who play in it and learn the elementary lessons that children can learn. May we be willing to become more of what the Lord desires us to be so that we can accomplish all that He has
given us to do.

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