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Core Characteristics of Christian Maturity Below are the 15 Core Characteristics that Friedens' ministry seeks to develop in the people to whom we minister. Intentionally living by faith rather than depending only on human wisdom 2 Corinthians Being filled with the Spirit by submitting to His work in and through us Ephesians Allowing the Gospel to shape and empower each aspect of our lives, including: our relationships, work, identity, purpose, dreams, and concerns.

Theological soundness — Theology synthesizes the teachings of Scripture into cohesive units of thought. Solid theology also helps us interpret Scripture and interpret our experiences accurately. Explain and defend Christianity — It is inevitable that we will encounter questions and doubts about Christianity, whether in our own minds or from those around us. Key aspects of this Christ-like character include:. The Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control Galatians Every good thing we have comes from God 1 Corinthians ; James Therefore, everything ultimately belongs to God and is entrusted to us to be used faithfully in a way that honors God Matthew Three primary categories of resources that we are called to steward are:.

Friedens' Discipleship Pathway applies the 15 Core Characteristics of Christian maturity in age- and developmentally-appropriate ways. For instance, we have identified what is appropriate for children in 4K-5K to be learning and experiencing to help them mature spiritually. We've done the same for other age groups - both younger and into adulthood. This Discipleship Pathway shapes the content and goals of Friedens' ministries, and it invests meaning and intentional purpose in everything we do. Although Friedens' Discipleship Pathway is arranged sequentially, we recognize that spiritual growth is generally not predictable or linear.

Flexibility is required to maintain an environment of grace rather than legalism.

Jesus in Christianity - Wikipedia

We also recognize that only God can change people's hearts. As the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians , "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. We trust the results to God. Apart from being an inspirational leader and teacher, the Gospels describe many miraculous feats performed by Jesus. They can sound unbelievable today, but what would they have meant to first-century Jews? The miracle of the raising of the widow's son takes place in the village of Nain in Galilee.

Jesus arrives in Nain on the occasion of a funeral when he is approached by a widow whose only son has died. When Jesus brings the man back to life the crowd are astonished, but what delights them more than this triumph over death is the meaning of the miracle. The miracle reminds them of the great Jewish prophet Elijah who, eight centuries earlier, had also raised the only son of a widow in a town in Galilee.

Elijah was famous as a miracle worker and as a prophet who rebuked those Jews who under the influence of pagan idolatry had strayed from devotion to God. Elijah never died - he was transported to heaven in a chariot of fire. The parallels between Jesus and Elijah were hugely significant.

At the time the Jews were longing for an end to Roman oppression and the return of the kingdom of God - a new age in which peace, freedom, righteousness, faithfulness and the rule of God would prevail. The first stage in that road to salvation was the arrival of a prophet who - like Elijah - would rail against sin.

Maybe Jesus was that prophet - maybe even a reincarnation of Elijah? Clearly though, the Gospel writers believed Jesus was more than a prophet. In Matthew and Mark , just after the transfiguration,. The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished.

In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands. The resonances between Jesus and Elijah would have been striking to first century Jews and to Christians familiar with the Old Testament. But as Christianity spread into the Roman Empire, the miracle of the raising of the widow's son acquired other meanings.

The most important is that it prefigured Jesus' own resurrection. In fact the miracle in Nain is one of three times when Jesus raises the dead. But there was a key difference between these miracles and the resurrection of Jesus. The widow's son, Jairus' daughter and Lazarus were resuscitated or revived: they would eventually die again. Jesus on the other hand would live forever. His resurrection entailed a complete transformation in his body and spirit, a complete victory over death.

When Jesus arrives in a deserted and remote area to preach to a crowd of , he is told that the people are hungry. They discuss whether to go back to the villages to get food, but it's getting late, so instead Jesus asks the disciples to order the crowd to sit in groups of fifties and hundreds, and to gather what food is available. All they manage to collect is five loaves and two fishes. But Jesus works a miracle and there is enough to feed the multitude, so much so there are twelve basketfuls of leftovers.

The ancient meaning of this miracle would have been clear to the disciples and the crowd. Jesus had acted like Moses , the father of the Jewish faith. In every respect, the miracle echoed Moses and his miracle in the Sinai wilderness when he fed the multitude of Hebrews. Moses had left Ramesses on the fertile lands of the Nile Delta, crossed a sea - the Red Sea - and headed east towards a deserted area - the Sinai wilderness.

Jesus had left Bethesda on the fertile lands of the Jordan Delta, crossed a sea - the Sea of Galilee - and headed east towards a deserted and remote area - the Golan Heights on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus orders the crowd to sit in fifties and hundreds he is echoing Moses the general who often ordered the Hebrews to sit in squares of fifty and one hundred. In the Sinai, Moses fed a multitude with quails and manna, the bread of heaven; in the Golan Heights Jesus fed a multitude with fish and bread. In both miracles there were basketfuls of leftovers.

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To first-century Jews the miracle of the loaves and fishes signalled that Jesus was like Moses. The reason is that in Jewish minds, Moses was a role model for the Messiah. The Jews were praying for a saviour to come and free them from foreign oppression. They believed he would be someone like Moses who had freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Maybe Jesus was the leader they were waiting for?

The Role of Community in Discipleship

The crowd certainly thought so - after the miracle, the crowd try to crown Jesus king of the Jews there and then. After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus tells the disciples to head back to the fishing village of Bethsaida whilst he retires to the mountain to pray on his own. Later that night, the disciples are crossing the sea of Galilee and making little progress against the strong wind when they suddenly see Jesus walking on the water.


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  5. At first they think it's a ghost, but Jesus reassures them, telling them - 'Take heart, it is I! Do not be afraid! The miracle of the walking on water is best understood in the context of the previous miracle. The feeding of the would have reminded the disciples of Moses and the Exodus. The miracle of the walking on water would have reminded them of the climax to the Exodus - Joshua and the conquest of the land of Canaan. After wandering for 40 years in the wilderness Moses led the Israelites to the eastern shores of the river Jordan to prepare for the conquest.

    But Moses died on Mt Nebo before he could begin the invasion. His mission was accomplished by his right man Joshua. Jesus' miracle of the walking on water would have reminded the disciples of Joshua. Like Joshua, Jesus was crossing waters. That scene was inverted and echoed on the Sea of Galilee; ahead of Jesus was a different kind of ark - the wooden boat, carrying the twelve disciples.

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    But the biggest similarity between the two was in their names: Jesus is the Latin for the Hebrew name Joshua. In the Jewish mindset of the time, Joshua was another role model for the Messiah - the flipside of Moses. Whereas Moses had freed the Israelites from oppression, it was Joshua who had finished the job by conquering the Promised Land for them. At the time of Jesus, the Jews were looking for a Messiah would not only free them from foreign oppression as Moses had done , but someone who would also reclaim Judea and Galilee and restore it to the rule of God.

    In both the miracles of the loaves and fishes and the walking on water, Jesus seemed to fit the bill perfectly. But the miracle of the walking on water had many other meanings, especially in that difficult period from the middle of the first century onwards when early Christianity faced hostility and persecution from Imperial tyrants.

    The sea miracle functioned as a metaphor for the precarious situation in which Christian churches found themselves - especially in Rome. To many Christians the Church must have felt like the fishing boat on the sea of Galilee, buffeted by strong winds and rocked by the waves.

    They must also have felt that Jesus had left them alone on the boat to fend for themselves. At best he was a ghostly appearance. But the message of the miracle is that they should 'take heart' and not be 'afraid': Jesus had not abandoned them, he was with them. It was a message which helped Christians endure persecution through the centuries. Jesus and his mother Mary are invited to a wedding in the Galilean town of Cana.

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    Jewish wedding feasts lasted all week and everyone in the village was invited, so it's not surprising that the hosts' wine is said to run out. Jesus asks one of the servants to fill the large water jars with water, and soon there is plenty of wine again. The miracle would have carried many messages. When the Jewish scriptures looked forward to the kingdom of God, they used a number of metaphors to describe it. One of the most frequently used images is that of a marriage.