Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Ah grow up: some jumbled thoughts on Christian maturity

"Grow up instead of just getting bigger." "Act your age & not your shoe size."

I'm sure we can all remember similar words spoken to us at some stage in our past or present. These rebukes are sometimes justified & sometimes incorrect, but are often delivered in some form of condescending or self-righteous manner.

Put those negative connotations aside for one moment & consider the loving God whose desire for each of His children is that they move from childish to mature faith in Him, lived out in a godly lifestyle.

Ephesians 4 is a super passage which I encourage you to think about as it's highlights the role of the church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers) in helping us all to make this transition from infantile ways to service, unity & maturity in Christ (v12-13).

The passage suggest various ways in which we can do this, so that we are no longer tossed around in the wind by any sort of teaching that comes our way, but rather learn to speak the truth in love & "in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ." (v15).

So if Christian maturity is the goal for us all, what does this look like? Below are a few thoughts... thrown together.

Childish Faith: "Good Christians don't have pain or disappointment."
Mature Adult Faith: "God uses our pain & disappointment to make us better Christians."

Childish Faith: "God wants to make us happy."
Mature Adult Faith: "God wants to make us holy (into the image of Jesus)"

Childish Faith: "Faith will help us explain what God is doing (things always work out)"
Mature Adult Faith: "Faith helps us to stand under God's sovereignty even when we have no idea what God is doing."

Childish Faith: "The closer to God we get, the more perfect we become."
Mature Adult Faith: "The closer we get to God, the more aware we become of our sinfulness."

Childish Faith: "Mature Christians have all the answers"
Mature Adult Faith: "Mature Christians can wrestle honestly with tough questions because they trust that God has the answers."

Childish Faith: "We go to church because our friends are there, we have great leaders & we get something out of it."
Mature Adult Faith: "We go to church because we belong to the body of Christ."

Attitudes of spiritual maturity are developed as God's people move out of the comfortable bubble of the church programme and live out their faith through the challenging (and often monotonous) experiences of daily life in the real world.

When we reach maturity we no longer depend on bells & whistles or a certain of worship music or other people to motivate us to live out our faith. Rather than having a reactive faith (always putting the responsibility for our spiritual growth on someone else shoulders) we become proactive (taking prayerful action to ensure that we are living as God intends).

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that growing up in our faith will make us perfect. I found a great quote in my Bible reading notes to counter that false belief.

"Maturity is not the place where we stop growing because all our problems are solved - it is the place where we have learned to grow more freely. To be perfect is to be without fault. To be mature is to have the ability and willingness to deal with the faults that remain. The Church will never be made up of perfect people; but it can be a body built up of those who are mature." Encounter with God (a Scripture Union resource)

No comments: