Christian Maturity - What is it all about ?
Pr. P. T. Thomas
The beginning of a true Christian life is figuratively presented in the scriptures as re-rebirth. Growth and development naturally follow a healthy birth. Life securing and growth promoting virtues indwell every healthy child. But all around these remain life-threatening disease germs and growth-deterring poisonous elements. So the immune system of the child should be boosted and it should be nourished by nutrients. It should be matured and taken care of till it attains ‘maturity’.
The case of spiritual truth and growth are no different. All around a re-born believer are satanic forces that threaten his life and growth. He needs protection, nurture and care from the spiritual ministers and co-believers. Loving personal attention is required until a believer reaches a level of ‘maturity’.
What is Maturity?
Drawings from the analogy of physical birth and growth, we presume that ‘maturity’ is that level of growth and development where one is able to distinguish between life-supporting and life-threatening elements. Maturity brings in the ability for selection and rejection-to select the benevolent and reject the malevolent. Spiritual maturity gives the spiritual insight to detect the subtle snares of the evil one and the spiritual strength to steer oneself of them. It is being able to know and discern what is excellent and pleasing to God (Phili. 1:9-11).
Maturity gives us a clear sense of identity. He realises who he is and what he should be. A clear sense of a definite aim in life develops in him. Also he identifies the right path that will lead to the clear goal.
Maturity and Perfection
Maturity and perfection should not be confused. A mature person is not a perfect person. There are many well-meaning sincere believers who hold that we should and would attain perfection here. They interpret Colossians 1:28 as a call to the same level of perfection that was in Christ Jesus–“We proclaim him admonishing and teaching every one with all wisdom so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” Being perfect in Christ in different from being perfect as Christ is. The difference is like flying to moon in a space-craft and flying to moon along-side a space-craft. The former proposition is possible, but the latter is impossible. In this life we cannot be perfect on the same level as Christ is. But we can be in Christ and in Him, God accepts us as ‘perfect in the Beloved’. One who is in Christ gets the perfect righteousness of Christ counted on his behalf. Maturity is attaining that level of spiritual insight which enables one to realise what is worthy of Christ and what it means to be in Christ.
Maturity and Wisdom
In 1 Corinthians 2:6–7, Paul writes: “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” The wisdom of God decreed before all ages but hidden till the fullness of time and manifested in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ can be comprehended only by the mature. The perfect plan of God designed for our eternal glory is unintelligible to the babes in Christ. It is solid spiritual food for the mature. So a mature believer can be identified by the type of spiritual messages he cherishes. The immature ones look for comforting messages about a caring God who meets their physical and emotional needs. Such messages appeal to the emotions and rouses ecstasy among the masses. But the mature ones enjoy exegetical messages that nourish the inner spirit that cause deep-felt spiritual joy and tears of love for the Lord leading to bowed-headed submission.
Training and Maturity (Hebrews 5:11–14)
The author of the epistle to Hebrews the Heavenly secret of growing to maturity. “…..the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil”. Maturity is not acquired overnight. It requires constant training and practice. A group of believers who are spoon-fed on the basic principles of the oracles of God will live and die a pack of babes. A believer should get skilled in the word of righteousness. He should commune and communicate with mature believers.One should realize that though he is in fellowship with other believers, his relationship with God in personal. He is important to God. He is a responsible child in the household of the God. He is accountable for every word and deed. This will prompt him to take spiritual exercises more seriously. He will start looking to God for guidance rather than seeking the advice of fellow believers. Such exercises will make him mature and seasoned
In the Old testament, the Israelites were provided with detailed lists of do's and don’t do's. Detailed lists of eatables and non-eatables were provided, what they should wear and what they should not was told them. But in the New Testament such lists are not provided. It is to make us mature. About food the instruction to the church is”…nothing is to the rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1Timothy4: 4-5). One may think that anything can be eaten after saying a word of thanks to God. But the mature will discern it and see whether the food is something over which a whole hearted, sincere thanks can be offered to the all-knowing, holy God. The babe looks for the list, the mature is trained to distinguish between the good and the evil; the acceptable and the unacceptable.
Fully Assured in the will of God (Colo 4:12)
The Sure mark of Christians maturity in being fully assured in all the will of God The Bible is the open heart of God. It reveals what pleases Him and what displeases Him. In intimate loving fellowship with God gives a deep insight into the will of God.While reading, studying and meditating the word of God, the still small voice of master is heard in the inner heart of the saint. This regular fellowship with God trains up a believers in to a mature disciple. As the love for the Lord grows stronger, other relationships needed into the background. The demand of the world around him will become secondary. Even his on personal will yield to the will of God. It will merge into the will of god God’s will become his own will. Christ Jesus will be living in him and he will be living in Christ. The world will see the glory of God emanating from his whole life. A Mature Christian is the one who reflects the glory of Christ in this dark world.