The Mark of Maturity

     According to our vision statement, “We shall become a spiritually mature Christian fellowship in order to provide an effective witness for Christ in this world”.  This statement is based on Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus in which he refers to the body of Christ as being, “…built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and becoming mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. (Ephesians 4:13)  The question that naturally arises from the vision statement is what is spiritual maturity?  What does it look like?  How does it act?  How are we to recognized it when we see it?

     I came across the answer while reading Eugene Peterson’s book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places:  A Conversation in Spiritual Theology.  In his book Peterson says, “Love is our most mature act as human beings”.  (Peterson p. 245)  Once I read those words it occurred to me that the love of which Peterson speaks is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, heart-fluttering, romantic kind of love;  nor is it the kind of love that we only hold for those who are nearest and dearest to us.  This is the kind of love that is an intentional, deliberate decision and act of the will.  It is the kind of love that decides to act lovingly whether we feel like being loving or not; it is the kind of love that decides to act lovingly when the recipient our of act of love is friend or foe; it is the kind of love that decides to act lovingly whatever may be the consequences to us. 

    I do not happen to be one of those persons who subscribes to the notion that the crucifixion of Jesus was an event that He could not avoid; that he was destined to die upon the cross and there was absolutely nothing He could do about it.  As I have come to understand it, Jesus was endowed the freedom to choose just like the the rest of the human race, and at various points during his life and ministry, He had the opportunity to choose another path other than the one that would lead to Calvary.  He could have answered the temptations put before Him by Satan after forty days in the wilderness differently and thus avoided the cross (Matthew 4:1-11).  Likewise, He could have walked away from that cup that was placed before Him by God in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42) and avoided the same fate.  If on no other occasions, on these two occasions Jesus was free to make His own choice but He chose the way of the cross. 

     It seems to me that is why Jesus can say, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.” (John 13:34)  It is impossible to command anyone to feel love for another.  But our Master can command us to act lovingly toward one another because it is a decsion and na act of the will.  And take note:  it is our loving actions that identifies who we are:  “By this all men will know that you are my disciple, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

     If it is the case that we are called to attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13) and if Paul is right in his assertion that “…God demonstrated His own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8),  then it is true:  “Love is our most mature act as human beings”.  Dare to be human!  Dare to be spiritually mature!  Dare to love!

1 comment to The Mark of Maturity

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