NEW HOPE DIGITAL
reThink Spiritual Maturity 1
by: Jason C Dukes
What is “spiritual maturity” anyway? It is hoped for, sought after, desired among the American church. Our portrayal of it is well-intended, but is it possible we need to rethink our understanding of spiritual maturity?
First, are we thinking of a “spiritual” person in defining terms as “a spectator of what is supernatural” or “a participator with Who is supernatural?”
A spiritual spectator is one who rarely if ever engages in actual spiritual activity in an everyday way. Let me be specific.
We have tended among the American church to consider a person spiritually mature if their calendar is busy with Bible studies. But does learning more and more about spiritual things make us spiritually mature? Not if we never participate with the One Who is supernatural in those spiritual learnings.
Take Luke 3:11 for instance.
He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”
(Luke 3:11 HCSB)
We may study that verse. Even memorize it. But isn’t our spiritual maturity evidenced by participating with Jesus in what He taught? His teachings are not an invitation to spectate spiritual life. They are an invitation to participate with Him.
Second, are we thinking of “maturity” with the goal of having matured or the journey of ever maturing?
Let me be frank. If we commonly have the notion that we have matured to the point of being better than anyone else, whether someone we would criticize as carnal within surrounding culture or someone we would critique as heretical within worshiping culture, then we are evidencing profound spiritual immaturity.
Jesus asserted that a begging-for-mercy, confessionally-sinful, gratefully-contrite heart is justified with God, whereas a thinking-I-am-beyond-the-need-of-mercy, pridefully-perfect, mistakenly-deserved heart is not (Luke 18:9-14). Maybe the more we actually walk with Christ, the less we think of our self-sufficiency and the more we think of our utter dependency.
Jesus did not seem to concern Himself with spiritual maturity, but rather with spiritual maturing. Following Him does not include an attempt to perfect myself. Rather, it does include a being made perfect by Someone other than myself.
Third, are we thinking of “spiritual maturity” as evidenced by knowledge and accomplishment or by wisdom and love?
Spiritual maturity is not evidenced by biblical intellectualism nor by energetic self-improvement. On the contrary, spiritual maturity is evidenced by the teachings of the Bible appearing as daily rhythms of my life while love and good deeds highlight His goodness rather than my own. Is the Bible learned through our heads or through our hands and feet? Is the goal my goodness noticed or His goodness seen?
So what do the Scriptures say?
I encourage you to go read at least the following four sections of Scripture along with others you may find yourself. See what they suggest.
Do they support my above suggestions? Rebuke them?
May we begin to rethink spiritual maturity.
Friday, I will offer a few suggestions about spiritual maturity as understood and lived among a local church family and community.