Terry Wardle authors the book “Outrageous Love Transforming Power” following her ministries in the service of Christ. The aim entailed in the book touches on a core subject that is apparent in the society today, particularly in the body of Christ. The church is declining and losing in content and direction as she claims in the book. Terry presents the thesis that indeed; the churches today are constituted by men and women who are perpetually spiritual infants (Wardle, 2004). Through the theme, she raises the profound question of what being like Christ actually means. Thus, she projects the need to understand the conceptualization that Christians continue to struggle with the issue of immaturity spiritually since they lack the understanding of what it is to be Christ-like. In essence, our religious leaders are just as blind as the people they are leading. Wardle provides the explanation the Christ’s character is formed in us and cannot be obtained by self-effort. Many confuse the process, assuming their actions can induce spirituality. Wardle provides the reader with an understanding of how we will never truly experience how much we are loved until we establish a real intimate relationship with Christ. The experience is life changing and takes the focus of what we can do and shifts it back to Christ. Our priority is to establish a relationship with Christ and to empower the Holy Spirit to fill and guide us. “All of these factors, combined with others, may be important to the development of a mature saint, but they do not define maturity. Spiritual maturity is determined by our Christlikeness” (Wardle, 2004). We cannot change ourselves; we have to allow Christ to form us into His likeness.
Wardle goes deep in the book into the message of the theme to discuss the evidence that is essentially very compelling with the aim of revealing the life that Christ led and the illustration to Christians today of what they ought to be. The book conducts an intense survey of the life of Jesus to establish the eight characteristics that shaped the principles of a Christian life (Wardle, 2004). These are the core principles that the believer in his or her life should embrace and let the Holy Spirit to nourish accordingly, to make them spiritually grown (Wardle, 2004). According to Terry, the full transformation into the apparent likeness of Christ is what represents the true mark of being spiritually mature. Thus, the men and women in our churches today, who do not depict the character of Christ, are observably not as spiritually mature as expected of them. They also lack the ability to lead others to spiritual maturity because they have failed to find it for themselves.
Reading the book, the core message relevant to me is evident in that it teaches the believer should have intense intimacy with the Father. The author explores the concept of the identity of Christians and shows congruently that the identity of the true believer is that of the child of God (Wardle, 2004). Moreover, the author also presents the understanding the mature Christians should walk in spiritual power without being derailed as well as is in a position to exercise the expected religious authority within the work of ministry (Wardle, 2004). Hence, the endeavor that mature Christians is transformed by the power contained in the Holy Spirit, which is an essential aspect of a qualified ministry leader.
Christians are struggling with spiritual immaturity because they do not truly understand what it means to be like Christ. Wardle argues that every believer is made for intimacy with our heavenly Father. Christians can be secure in the fact that they are a child of God. Wardle also provides the argument that believers can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They also can walk in spiritual power and can exercise the spiritual authority needed in the ministry. The author’s position that we can be spiritually mature shows us how much we try to control our spiritual growth. There is no way to disagree with the position of the author because there is so much validity to the argument. All too often we as Christians turn to what we believe we can control. It is not easy to turn our spiritual growth and complete trust over to Christ, we feel that we have to be more involved in the process than that. Ministries are formed, and we believe we are leading according to our calling, but we do not stop to allow Christ to truly use us. We relinquish control to take it right back, not to provide an opportunity for spiritual growth.
The book engages the reader in the understanding of the concept of Jesus-centered life and the power entailed in the Holy Spirit. The message is entirely in concurrence with my beliefs and understanding of the Christ-like life. I totally agree that indeed, as Christian, we ought to behave as he did in all the daily living as well as serve the church and the world in the same manner. Further, gathering the context that identity as a child of God is entitled to the love of God, and then it is essential to act as a truly mature Christian. Thus, as a reader engaging this book, I see a concretely created message that agrees with my understanding of the Christian life and consequently encourages my faith significantly.
In reflecting on the impact of the message from the book, and insight gained, the book is transformational. It allowed for a personal analysis and a reflection of the spiritual growth that is still necessary for effective ministry. I realize that in Christian ministry, when filled with the Holy Spirit, it is necessary to preach and teach the word and create ministries that aid in transforming other people into a greater level of reception and understanding of Christ. Personally, it requires a personal understanding of what it means to be Christ like, and how to escape spiritual infancy. How one reflects Christ in their own personal growth is a vital part of the ministry. One who is spiritually immature will have a very difficult time with their Christian ministry. It is vital to be receptive to Christ’s calling and open to Him taking the lead in my spiritual life. This is the real maturity that ministries and church leaders ought to project in their character, as they seek to be in the likeness of Jesus Christ. These are the leaders that will find the desired success in their ministry as well, because it is no longer their lead, but Christs. I also learn the comparison of Christ to the person I am and foundation of the qualities to engage in my pursuit towards Christian maturity. I have a long way to go, but having a better understanding of what leaders are missing in today’s ministry provides a better guide for personal growth.
- Terry Wardle (2004). Outrageous Love Transforming Power: How the Holy Spirit Shapes you into the Likeness of Christ. Leafwood Publishers.