Christian life

Three Phases of the Christian Life

I see three phases in the lives of Christians. The first begins when someone “gets serious about their faith” or “comes to Christ” or “becomes genuinely aware” of God in their hearts” or “gets saved” or “surrenders to Jesus.” Whatever words we pick, we’re talking someone’s initial authentic personal engagement with the Lord. “I’ve been saved!” “I love Jesus!” “I love my church!” “I love reading my Bible!” “I have eternal life!” “I have peace!” Faith becomes real. Alive. Personal.

All good . . . but there’s more.

Jesus taught that life is not about ourselves, it’s about others. This is phase 2. What I call the ‘outward turn’ . . . the realization that true joy and fulfillment shows up when we become others-focused instead of self-focused. This means loving and serving other people. Making disciples. Helping people and giving God credit instead of making ourselves the hero of every story. This is praying for people, in addition to praying for ourselves. This is selflessness, generosity, compassion, and empathy.

All good . . . but there’s more.

Then there’s the ‘upward turn’. . . the third phase of Christian maturity . . . the Jesus-life. When we become aware that His Spirit lives in us – not up there or out there but in here – something new and different arrives. There’s an unshakable peace, a sense of His presence, a constant prayer conversation, a different kind of conscience making it much harder to do the wrong thing intentionally, and a confidence that everything’s going to be all right.

Phase 1 is “I have Jesus.” Phase 2 is “Jesus is not just what I have, He’s what we all need.” Phase 3? “Jesus is not just what I have and what I need, He’s all I want!”

Is your faith only about you? Jesus’ faith was never self-focused, it was about others. Make the outward turn and move toward loving and serving others. If that’s where you are, you may have fallen into serving Him versus enjoying Him. Reconnect with Jesus and engage with Him at the heart level.

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