What does a mature Christian look like? Over the next few weeks, I’d like to explore this question. The question is not unimportant. Christ came to save us from our sin. We are saved by grace. But we are also saved for a purpose. This purpose is to grow in our relationship with Christ. We are to grow in learning about and integrating the gospel more and more in our lives. This is not to say that we are saved by our maturity, but we are not saved without it. Naturally, this leads us to ask, what does it mean to be a mature Christian?
To start, it may be helpful to understand a little bit of the nature of Christian maturity. To do this, it may be helpful to address some misconceptions about what Christian maturity is by addressing what Christian maturity is not.
Christian maturity is not a state.Oftentimes in our culture we can think of maturity in terms of graduation. We can think that if someone is a high school graduate we can equate that with a certain education level. But Christian maturity is not like that. Maturity is not a state of being. It’s not about what status a person has achieved. Instead, it’s helpful to think of it like a direction rather than a destination. It’s true that some people during certain seasons of their spiritual growth can have “growth spurts”. They can go through more intense situations or more seasons of challenge. Others God leads through quiet waters. But it is about the direction rather than position. Are we desiring to grow closer to God and heading in the right direction?
Christian maturity is not a rank. Sometimes Christian maturity can sometimes be mistaken for a rank like in a military. Certainly those who have walked with Christ for a longer time may have more experience, more insights and wisdom to help those who are walking along the way.This is easily confused with a “ranking”. But the gospel operates differently. Through the gospel Christ earns a person’s relationship with God and so a layperson has equal access to God through Christ as much as a pastor or a church leader. In the Reformed Tradition, a church leader is considered a servant-a “minister”.
It is not just about what you know. Again, knowing things is important. There are basic foundational truths that a mature Christian should know and affirm. But it’s not just about knowing information. A person can give a great deal of information about the cultural background of 1st century Palestine, but not have a character that reflects Christ. Knowing things is important, but it’s not just about what you know.
It is not about what activities you are involved in.Like the others, activities matter. What you do and how you spend your time matters. But it’s not just about how busy a person is at church. A person can spend hours on end at the church but neglect their own family. A person can be serving in the church but using God as a means to glorify oneself. Involvement in Christian activities does not equal being a mature Christian.
It is not just about morality.By this time you should get what I’m saying. Like the others, morality is important. But being a mature Christian is not about how moral a person is, but about how deeply the gospel has been planted in their lives. Christian maturity is not about knowing the rules or how closely you are able to follow the rules.
It’s about God leading us into a deeper relationship. Ultimately, it’s about following after Christ and growing in your love for Jesus. It’s about trusting Jesus. God is the one who leads us onward to maturity. His Holy Spirit galvanizes us to love him more. Jesus’ actions on earth capture our hearts with his actions of grace and love. God becomes our highest delight and desire. Christian maturity is a lifelong pursuit.
More to come in the weeks ahead.