The Quest for Maturity in the Faith

When a child is born, predictably the parents of the child have grand dreams.  Okay, first things first. They hope the baby is healthy and thriving. If not, they do everything possible to get the baby the help they need to achieve a healthy state. Beyond that, the parents oversee the child’s development to assure a well-balanced education and exposure to culture, sports and the arts. All in all, they yearn for the child to mature physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

Likewise, when a person gets saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, teachers and pastors in the church work diligently at making sure this “new child in the faith” develops and thrives. Similar to the parent of a child, the pastor/teacher makes every conceivable opportunity available to newly born again Christians to be taught and discipled so they reach maturity in the faith. To bolster my point, the Apostle Paul addresses the subject of spiritual maturity and his plan for spiritual growth in his letter inspired by the Holy Spirit to the church in Ephesus as follows:

EPH 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Moreover, just like a responsible parent prepares their child for adulthood, a Christ-centered disciple-maker prepares new Christians for maturity in the faith.  In both cases, the child and the born again in the faith, at some point, must choose to leave their childish immaturity behind. If they don’t, the consequences are troublesome at the very least.  For instance, it is horrific, although increasingly common, to see a 20 something wandering the streets without a sense of purpose and lacking skills to work and thrive. Worse yet, even though they are capable, they refuse to choose a path toward working and supporting themselves and a family. In comparison, it is also disturbing to observe a person who claims to be born again reject a clearly marked route toward maturity in the faith. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews admonishes us to mature in the faith as follows:

HE 5:11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

From my observation, and to my growing frustration, immaturity seems to be a growing norm in the church. It even seems comfortable and acceptable for many. In fact, for everyone who I personally see come to salvation by grace through faith, it is rare to see that person develop a quest for maturity in the short term.  Instead, praying a prayer in hopes of salvation seems to be their end-game instead of the beginning. After that, many push away as if to say, “all I want from God and the church is assurance that I’ll go to heaven.” However, there is abundant life for us to experience now. With that said, unless Christians develop a quest for maturity they will never be ready for God’s good work as Paul describes in his second letter to Timothy as follows:

2 TI 2:20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

All in all, unless we develop a quest for spiritual maturity in the faith, the impact won’t be confined to just the individual or to any particular local church. In other words, our immaturity isn’t just hurting us as an individual but, in fact, it is destroying God’s dream for the family and the church.  As the Great Commission states in the words of Jesus Himself, 

MT 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

And to put this in simple terms, we learn and grow in the faith becoming mature enough to help others learn and grow and the process is continually repeated ideally by every Christian. So then, it isn’t just our quest for maturity but it is a desire to help others develop a quest for maturity!

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene

Gene StocktonComment