Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maturity


          Maybe it goes without saying that a genuine Christian wants to follow Jesus. We all may have various ideas of how to do this, or differ on what the goal of spiritual growth is. Yet, perhaps we need to ask what God wants and what his goal is for his followers? Maturity is where it is at, man, and we all need it, without exception. It is not unusual for me to have a conversation with a student who is hot for God, and bemoans some problem in the church or world, but lacks the maturity to go with the fire. I usually say something to the effect, "yeah, well, you can post your 95 Theses once you own a door to put them on."  It’s also not unusual for many Christians today to have heard thousands of sermons, but there is no fire to go with the length of time spent in church and, furthermore, is not sure of how to avail of the great Christian resource of grace.  Physical maturity does not always equal spiritual maturity.  And maturity does not happen apart from unity.



          In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians telling them his aim: "Him (Jesus) we proclaim warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ" (1:28). He echoes this again with the Ephesians letting them know that the process of maturity is to not be done in isolation, but together as a community of believers, so that no one is left out or behind in God's goal of seeing a well-rounded church, fully developed and equipped to follow Jesus in every circumstance of life (4:13). Our Lord himself exhorted us to be mature, just as our heavenly Father is. Since God is mature, we are to reflect him in all of our relationships by handling them in a mature manner (Matthew 5:46-48).

          The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that those who are mature have developed a keen sense of discernment in distinguishing between good and evil (5:14); and, Paul told the Phillipians that maturity brings a proper perspective from which to view hard situations and allows one to endure suffering (3:12-15).

          Here is the crux of the matter:  maturity results from spiritual growth which occurs over an extended period of time in the context of community. Maturity can neither be realized with only growth, nor with just time. Both are needed in order to reach a mature state. The process of growth over time is of vital importance to Jesus, who knows that this is the manner in which one bears fruit that will last (Luke 8:9-15).

          Are you spiritually mature? If so, how did you get to this point? If not, how will maturity be realized? Does my ministry and church have maturity as a goal? Why, or why not? May God be gracious to work in us and instill in his children his own mature nature so that we may be like Jesus in all we do and say.

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