Monday, January 08, 2007

Christian maturity

Yesterday someone brought up the issue of Christian maturity. It was related to what was being taught and discussed from Ephesians 1. But not directly. So it was only mentioned.

But it got me to thinking. What is Christian maturity? On the surface the answer seems easy, something like: being conformed to the image of Christ, or, becoming like Jesus. This is a large point of what it means to be a Christian.

I believe, however, that the only way we're really going to begin to understand and experience this maturity, is to remain in Scripture, in a commitment to a body of believers, i.e., to a church, and in reading good Bible scholars and theologians, all the while going back to Scripture to verify if their contribution is helping us understand the Story of God. There are other authors, but the two who have had the most impact on me during the past five years are N.T. Wright and Scot McKnight.

Of course when it comes to Christian maturity, in Jesus, we're all works of God in process. So we must always be open to change, though most of the change we will see, will be gradual and over time. Usually only striking in that we can tell that our current life and experience is different from our past. Journaling is nice here, though I haven't done much of it, myself. But I can look back on what I wrote years past, and compare that to what I would write now, about my experience.

While Scripture and Christian community are the most crucial for our Christian growth in maturity, I don't want us to discount the help Christian authors can give us. There are a good number that can help us. They are gifts from God to the church. To help us grow into and realize what we have and are and are equipped to do, in Christ, in this world.

What have you found helpful in promoting spiritual growth in your own life? What difficulties have you experienced in this?


Michael W. Kruse said...

Great post. I would define Christian maturity as "The state where what happens on the outside matches what happens on the inside, and where both of these reflect the image of Christ."

Charity Singleton said...

I think for me, Christian maturity goes back to community. I can guage my growth best by how I am treating others. This is not just how I treat the lady at the supermarket. My lack of personal discipline or my absence from the word may not show through there. But when I am elbow to elbow with other believers, my small efforts in my relationship with God will most certainly be revealed.

Ted Gossard said...

Michael, Thanks. I like your definition. Christian maturity is not just some inward, private, or isolated (in one body) kind of thing. By nature it must go out and beyond in transforming the world in which it lives. Like Jesus. Not being made unclean by the unholy, but making the unclean holy (McKnight, probably Wright, probably others, too).

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, You raise an excellent point. Our spirituality is relational and communal in nature. How I relate to God will be evident in how I relate to others.

I don't want to get hung up on that, though it's an important biblical point (1 John). When we may think we've gained alot of ground in this, we'll all too often find that we have plenty of more room to grow.

Like you say, Charity, our efforts are important. True, even though we know God's grace underlies everything good one does.