The Blessing of Maturity
Bill Tenny-Brittian

This week, I got to thinking about some of the wise, gentle, and mature Christians I’ve known in the past.  You know the ones: they offer to pray for you—and then actually do it.  They have a gentle spirit that just makes you want to be in their presence.  They are the peacemakers in almost every situation.  They don’t worry about what’s best for them, but what’s best for the body of Christ.  They are the ones who taught me what it is to be a follower of Jesus because I could see Jesus in them.

On the other hand, there are those who have been “Christians” for a long, long time who have decided that they are entitled to the “benefits” of their longevity in their religion.  Perhaps you know of some of these.

  1. They are so mature in the faith that they can easily point out everybody else’s faults and sins—and almost always do.  They use the prophets as their model for confronting sin, but the prophets virtually never confronted an individual’s sin, but rather corporate sin (except in the case of national leaders who were charged with eradicating national and corporate sin).  But Jesus is supposed to be our model for our lives, including how to confront sin.  Note that in the story of the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus neither condemns nor condones the woman’s sin.  And that is pretty much how He always confronted sin.  When did Jesus confront adulterers, thieves, prostitutes, and the like?  He didn’t.  He only confronted the sins of the leaders.  He does however, teach us how to confront sin in Matthew 18:15-20.  If someone sins against you… not if someone is sinning and it irritates you.
  2. They are so mature in the faith that they can reinterpret Scripture to suit their personal theology.  I recently read an article that quoted a denominational official of the PCUSA who, after being informed that the African Presbyterian Church were considering  disfellowshipping their U.S. counterpart because of their lax stance on Biblical authority, patronizingly said that the African church was still an immature church that didn’t understand more mature and modern theology.  Never mind that the African church has been growing steadily while the U.S. American church has been declining for over a decade.  It’s not that everything’s black and white, but in the words of Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good” (Isaiah 5:20)—on the other hand, see #1 above.
  3. They are so mature that they can discount evangelism as offensive at best and bigoted at worst.  They have the attitude of “live and let live” and conclude that everyone’s religious belief is equally valid.  While it is good to be respectful of other beliefs, Jesus really didn’t give us an option about evangelism.  He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and His final words to His disciples were to take their witness of the Lord to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

One of the greatest joys of the House Church is the close camaraderie of the participants.  In the words of Bill Easum, in a House Church “it’s next to impossible to be fake about your faith or lack of it.”  And it’s also next to impossible to put on the air of false maturity and get away with it—their brothers and sisters will gently call them on it and encourage them to grow in their Christ-likeness.  Because everyone in a House Church gets to know one another intimately, the words of Paul to admonish one another with wisdom (Colossians 3:16) becomes an active part of the church’s life. 

Let us, therefore, encourage one another to grow more and more like Jesus—trusting in His teachings and in Him alone that we might fulfill His commission to love one another and to make disciples of all nations.