12 May 2009

So what is Spiritual Maturity?

I have moved a posting from Facebook here so we can perhaps discuss things better...

I began by saying:

I'd be interested in how you define "Spiritual Maturity." For years - in a pre-consumer, or at least quasi-consumer world - I said it's when you produce more than you consume... But I'm not sure that's adequate...
But look at the research...

Many Churchgoers and Faith Leaders Struggle to Define Spiritual Maturity

Casey Corbin

Casey Corbin May 11 Good to think about. I emailed it out to get other's thinking about it too and get their responses.

George Alexander

George Alexander May 11 I know it's not a complete answer, and I can object to it too, but I find it helpful, just the same, to define maturity as the balance of knowing the word and implementing/doing the word. If "knowing" is along the horizontal axis and "doing" is up the vertical, then maturity is the 45 degree line. By that definition, someone who is saved a short... Read More time and lives it can be more "mature" than someone who's saved a while, knows a lot, but isn't a "doer" of it. Such a person typically feels mature because of knowledge, but in reality is just old!

This brings up many things that a wrong with the way we do our faith...

Here are some of my thoughts...

Spiritual maturity is not a place you arrive nor a state that you achieve. Spiritual maturity is being at the place you should be in your spiritual journey. You can't get ahead of yourself (interesting picture in my head!) but you can certainly lag behind where you should be in the journey.

The immature look for a stopping point, a summit, a place to camp. But the truly mature - though often tempted to slow down and even stop - see the whole of life as a dangerous, intriguing but amazingly fulfilling journey into self-knowledge reflected in their knowledge of God.

And "knowledge" in a Bible sense is not about something known in theory, but something known through experience. You can't grow spiritually by reading about it. The "reading" tells us what to expect as we step our. The "reading" helps us to "understand" but does not actually give us the "knowing" that we see as maturity. Maturity comes from stepping out in faith to experience God's direction, purpose and life. As George says, it's about both "knowing" and "doing."

Many of us are content with knowing about spiritual things, but have never experienced them.

Sometimes we equate "spiritual maturity" with "holiness." But more and more I understand "holiness" not as a state of being, but an act and understanding of "mission." To make something "holy" in a NT sense, is to set it apart for a special use. We are made holy by the blood of Jesus, and consequently set apart for his purposes. (I also see "righteousness" as a "relationship" word... but that's another story...)

And sometimes we see "spiritual maturity" in terms sanctification, the process by which our justification is worked out in our lives. But if we're not careful, we begin to think linear and lose the great mystery of sanctification - God interacting in our lives!

Just some thoughts. Certainly not exhaustive. But enough to open up for discussion.

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