Anonymous asked a question:
Hi, I just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for taking your time to write these posts and answering questions. What does it mean to be spiritually mature? Does it just mean someone is far in their walk with God or receives many visions and revelations? Sometimes I feel like Christianity is a race to see who can achieve this maturation the fastest.
Thanks so much my friend. I love what I do and I love every one of you I can serve, even if it helps just a few.
I appreciate your question too. You’re not alone in thinking this. Many Christians are straight up exhausted with all these absurd spiritual parameters that we throw on ourselves. Most of them are not from, you know, the Bible.
I get pretty sad about this one because I meet Christians who will say, “I just don’t think I’m growing. I read the Bible morning and night, I attend church nine times per week, I talk with God at sunrise and in the car and during my lunch break, I evangelized to only four people this month, and I listened to a messed up kid for an hour without saying Jesus once.”
I keep thinking, “Dang dude — you’re actually growing a lot.”
When we set such high ridiculous standards, I think we go into morbid self-punishment by 1) measuring our quantity, 2) measuring our intentions, 3) grading our intensity, and 4) comparing to other “good Christians.”
I feel like Satan is laughing his butt off while we run around trying harder, doing more, hyping up our feelings, and defining our spirituality with distorted definitions.
While I could give you some very long guidelines about spiritual maturity, the simplest thing I can say is: Spiritual maturity is about loving God and loving people.
Please consider asking yourself: What kind of people do you think helped you grow when you hung out with them? I bet my left foot that it was people who loved God and loved others.
I don’t know if anything else really matters. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that if you’re the smartest guy of all time, if you can predict the future, if you drop-kick a mountain, and if you stop world hunger, but you don’t love people, then it doesn’t matter what else you do anyway.
You might have heard “love God and love people” a million times, but really: what else matters?
Spiritual growth then is unlocking any part of us that helps us move forward on this, whether it’s letting go of something or starting something new.
This is God’s goal for you too. He beckons you to Himself by loving you first, and it’s through His Son that His love overflows through you in abundance toward others.
Everything God does is to grow the Greatest Commandment in you.
He gives you His own Holy Spirit to flex His fruits through you like patience, kindness, and self-control.
He commands us to go and make disciples so that others would be invited into the Story of God.
He gives us commands that give us freedom and wisdom for our own good and joy and harmony with one another.
He sent His Son as both an example and a savior so we could become like Jesus — who loved God and loved people.
When we get to this place of loving God for who He is and loving people without expecting anything back, then the exhausting race stops. We’re no longer performing to “earn God” somehow, because we already have His approval. We no longer need to impress others because we’re loving them regardless of how they respond.
Those not driven by grace — the knowledge that God absolutely loves us despite us — are constantly punishing themselves towards an impossible standard that is really just self-slavery.
The mature Christian is able to act out of the God-initiated love in their own heart to move towards God and people without expectation or competition. It’s the perfect motivation of non-motivation, because grace is its own self-sustaining empowerment.
It’s tough to get to that sort of mindset, and it’s certainly a messy journey. But I believe the more we press into the confidence of knowing that God eternally loves us through His Son, then the more we can loosen the chains of all that stands in our way: even if it’s ourselves.
“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?”
— Francis Chan