Mature Christians

Title: Mature Christians
Category: Emotional Issues
Subject: Christian Living
Mature Christians

This information was not authored by the Editor, rather the Editor serves as a contact person. This information was provided by the office of Keith Hamilton with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Christians must "grow up" into maturity. This is a good article regarding this subject.

As Christian adults, individuals are expected to conduct themselves in ways that will positively influence God's kingdom on this earth. Members of churches, and Ministers in particular are to be seen as patterns of Christian living that others can emulate. Just as Christ is the example for all Christians, people who profess to be Christians are demonstrations of the benefits of the Christ-life. Sadly, the Church has not been a stellar witness for the Lord it names as it Savior. Too often, its members have conducted themselves in immature, un-Christlike ways.

Though a person may be advanced in years, they may continue to victimize others, and consequently themselves, by acting in childish and self-destructive behaviors. Perhaps the most important indicator by which maturity can be measured is the ability to delay personal gratification. In church congregations, like in the general population, stories circulate that validate an alarming immaturity. Examples are numerous when Church members bickered because they disagreed about the selection of interior design of the Fellowship Hall, or Ministers who got bitter because they failed to get elected to some desired position in the Ecclesiastical hierarchy.

God equipped each person to grow physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Physical maturity occurs in a most natural way as the body develops as it is intended. Unless accidents happen that prevent the natural course of progression, in due time, the person will reach full stature. The spiritual, mental, and emotional pieces of the puzzle do not seem to fall in place quite so easily. Though the maturity of these areas of life may be God-inspired they are inevitably self-directed.

A person willfully chooses whether God will be a dynamic force that gives focus to that individual's daily living. To the extent one depends upon God to negotiate the decisions of life, the individual will successfully navigate the passages of development. Jesus provides some instruction in these matters as offered by Luke 8:14. "As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature."

As one of Jesus' followers attempted to follow his guidance, he explained his experience in 1 Co 13:11. "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. In another instance, in Ephesians 4:15 that same follower Paul wrote, "But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ." The assumption here is that the process of maturity is dynamic rather than a prize a person might attain in this life. Again, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:10, "lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work, and as you grow in the knowledge of God."

Spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity are not as innate to the human dilemma as is a person's physical constitution. Initially, advice in 1 Peter 2:2 suggests to Christians to "long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation." Some more than others have experienced difficulty in this process. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews counsels those who engage in the Christian pilgrimage to "consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart" (Hebrews12:3). History can verify that many, both those who are involved in church and those who are not, have failed to succeed in the mastery of an age-appropriate level of maturity.

Ultimately, each person is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). Self-examination, grounded in a rewarding prayer life, is the key. When a person has taken a serious personal inventory, during a profound period of spiritual meditation, then that person is ready to begin the steps toward exploration that leads beyond spiritual adolescence.

Will Bacon

Georgia Baptist Healthcare System

Helpful Materials On This Subject:
* Exploring Faith Maturity: A Self-Study Guide for Adults with Leader Manual
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain,Dorothy L. Wiliams / Search Institute / January 1990
* Putting Away Childish Things: Reaching for Spiritual and Emotional Maturity in Christ
David A. Seamands / Light & Life Communications / December 1999
* Spiritual Maturity: Commitment to Spiritual Growth
John Oswald Sanders / Moody Press / May 1994
* Breaking through to Spiritual Maturity
Neil T. Anderson / Gospel Light Publications / July 2000