Church · faith

the marks of maturity

When I think of maturity, I think about a tree in Colonial Williamsburg. It is absolutely huge and amazing. That tree didn’t get like that overnight. Or several nights. It’s thousands of nights. It’s been through storms. It’s been through decades of children climbing and running around it. It’s sheltered many. It’s amazed many. Its roots run deep and it is not going anywhere too soon. It is lovely and mysterious and full of glory. This is what a mature person’s soul looks like.

Maturity does not always come with age… but experience. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been a Christian. We all know this. But sometimes people think everyone else is immature and especially those younger than them. This is why we have marks. We have a kind of scorecard that tells us, somewhat objectively, what is real maturity in a believer. Jesus made it clear that when we remain in him, he will grow. Cause effect. But he also said there are many who stop growing. They allow other voices, other influences to take more of their hearts and minds than the things of God. We need to do constant battle with our own hearts and minds to abide in Jesus. At every age.

Like a tree, the experience comes, storms, rains, draught. What the tree does makes all the difference to its life span. I’m guessing. I’m a blogger, not a treeologist…

Maturity is not whining.

My 4 year old seems to be in constant whining mode these days. She most likely is whining at the same time you are reading this. She is very sensitive. At the drop of a hat she is whining about something. Miriam isn’t playing with her the way she wants. I gave her the wrong colored cup. We ran out of juice. Our dental visit wasn’t covered by insurance. Oh wait, that was me. Point is we are a whiny bunch, we humans. There will ALWAYS be SOMETHING to whine about. And if you want to, you can. It will show your age. It will show your inability to cope.

Don’t get me wrong. Everyone needs to vent. There are real things that we can complain about. There’s a difference between healthy lamenting and whining. I’ll talk about lamenting and weeping soon.

Maturity is admitting to everything.

The one thing that frustrates me more than anything is when a person cannot simply admit he or she is wrong. Or did something wrong. But I’ve learned that it isn’t all that simple really. It’s been complicated by years of being told that you’re ok, I’m ok philosophy of our culture. And it is also the difference between whining about everything and lamenting the effects of sin and death, from those choices that others have made against us to our own choices that have pained others. Maturity sees responsibility where it must lie.

Maturity is humility.

I don’t know everything. I’m not always right about everything. I’m amazed at how many people have opinions on everything. Opinions. They will even admit those things are opinions, but they’re still “right.” Humility says I don’t have prove I’m right. I don’t have to prove anything even if it is The Truth. The truth will always win. Grace will also. The Gospel is stronger than any argument you can put together. Humility says that I may not be the one to sway this person. Humility says I may, in fact, be the one pushing this person away from grace and I do not ever want to do that. Humility is stepping down and letting someone who gets this person do what we cannot do. And most of all it’s remembering only the Spirit of God himself changes a soul.

Maturity is weeping.

Along with humility and weakness, we cannot help but realize how flawed and sinful we are. If you have never been moved to tears over your sinfulness, true lament, I cannot help but wonder if you really understand the need for grace in the first place. If you aren’t just as or more angry about your own sin than you are about everyone else’s, than you must do that work first. Something about planks and specks. Maturity shows us ourselves in the mirror. It makes a routine, a habit, of introspection and self-awareness, repenting and asking God to root out those areas of evil lurking in our hearts and minds. We weep for the brokenness in the world. We weep for the brokenness in our hearts. We turn out our pockets, our closets, our darkest places, and we beg God to deal with us as if we are believers.

 

Maturity is dependency. 

We are so afraid of looking like doormats. We are so afraid of being irrelevant or unnecessary. Christians in our culture today are afraid of losing “ground” or power or influence. We are afraid of looking weak or finding ourselves limping along while the world has passed us by. We end up being that old man on the porch yelling at kids. Instead, mature Christians say we have always been dependent on Jesus. We have always boasted in our weaknesses. And when we haven’t, we have lost our way. We need to get back to that way. We need to figure out how to repair the bridges we’ve burned. And we don’t do it because we’re awesome. We do it because God is awesome and goes before us. HE builds the house. We are sinking sand. It’s anti-American to admit to being weak. It’s anti-Jesus to say we are anything but.

Maturity is trusting in Jesus.

I wonder if the Church really believes that Jesus is at work. I worry that we really don’t. You could argue that the fact people aren’t lining up and in standing room only spaces for prayer meetings may mean that our churches have given up on prayer and that in effect we have more faith in voting than in kneeling.

I wonder if our little church in the middle of nowhere with a couple dozen people were to really rise up to the throne of Grace weekly corporately, and daily individually, what could happen. Because I truly believe that “thoughts and prayers” evolve into actions and deeds. I truly believe that God will use His people as His hands and feet, and will work ordinary miracles – seems an oxymoron, right?

Related to this is the ability to see clearly that The Church will prevail after all is said and done and that Jesus has already overcome our worst enemies, sin and death. We live like that work hasn’t been done. We live like that work is up to us. And we don’t pray, invoking that power that warred against all sin and death, to accomplish in us His current work of redemption. One by one, family by family, church by church, community by community, until He returns.

Maturity can be quiet.

Sometimes the most mature thing is to walk away. From an argument. From trying to win or prove yourself. Sometimes it’s a sign of security that you won’t risk EVERYthing to win. Some battles are not worth everything. Quietness doesn’t always mean you have nothing valid to say. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve given up. Silence at times can be the most life-giving thing you can offer someone else. Your silent presence is worth more than a million words at times.

Maturity is seeking to understand others to show them Jesus.

Our initial encounters with people, from infancy through, oh, I don’t know, 25ish? are largely based on what does this person give me, what do they want from me, how do they help me. It’s all about me. Hopefully we begin to see relationships forming that are not solely based on this give and take as we grow up, but it hovers around that for most of our lives.

The world gets more complicated though, doesn’t it? I often wonder why God has put certain people in my life and I try to remember that I can always learn something from every person I meet. Yet that still hovers into a give and take relationship. What I’ve come to understand is understanding. I’ve come to see the gift that it is for someone to make the effort to understand me and to put aside any preconceived/prejudiced notions they have. I have seen the value in setting aside my own agendas and need to be heard, in order to truly hear another. It isn’t give and take. It isn’t ok, now you listen to me. It’s I value you and what you have to say. I want to understand it. I want to be able to voice your opinion and share it in such a way that validates you and ultimately so that we can all learn from each other.

How I pray for the Church to rise up and grow up. To walk this life with others, the broken, the beaten down, the hardhearted, the brokenhearted, the laborers, the misunderstood. The list is long and heavy. The believer’s heart is burdened with them. Our call is to carry them. We grow up. We seek to understand. We listen. We put down our swords. We bind up the wounded. We feed the hungry. And we carry them to Jesus. Please. Please. Please. Carry them to Jesus.

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