We ran into some old friends earlier this week at a school thing. We caught up and exchanged pleasantries, and it was really good to see them!
As the conversation was coming to a close, my wife says, "Tell them what you're doing now at the church." Uhh....OK.
So, I explained that my new role is Married Couples Pastor, and that the former Couples Pastor is now serving as the Spiritual Growth Pastor. He'll be developing small group curriculum, devotionals for quiet time and reflection during the week, and creating some seminar series, such as Old and New Testament classes to help people develop a deeper understanding of scripture.
Our friend responds by saying, "You know what...that's why we left the church. There wasn't anything for mature Christians."
The program was beginning, and the conversation ended abruptly, and I was left stunned. My friend's comments echoed in my mind..."There wasn't anything for mature Christians."
What does that even mean? You want to know what I think it means for most people? It means they believe that spiritual maturity is sitting and listening and learning. Gaining knowledge.
But, is knowledge maturity? Hardly.
Ed Young, Jr. is Founding Pastor at Fellowship Church in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. He made the comment one time that it's actually the self-proclaimed "mature" Christians who are the real "babies" when it comes to spiritual growth. In Young's words, they sit at the table and cry and whine and scream, "Feed me! Feed me!" He demonstrated this in a sermon by sitting in an adult-sized high-chair wearing a baby bib. Pretty good stuff.
Ed Young says that a lot of Christians mistakenly think they are ready to wade in the deep end of the pool, but really need to continue to hang out in the shallow end. Young added, "When I can master loving God with all my heart, and loving my neighbor as myself, maybe I'll go a little bit deeper."
With so many ways to serve others - both at church and in the community - how can someone ever say, "There isn't anything for mature Christians?"
You know what? You can easily identify the truly mature believers. They're the ones on the front lines, serving and loving others. They are the ones who never complain, and who understand that Jesus' message isn't just for them. They aren't consumers. They're inverstors. They're not takers, they're givers. They aren't listeners, they're doers.
How do you define spiritual maturity? By knowledge, or by showing God's love to those desperate to find the true meaning of life?