It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in the church: the idea that one person is more spiritually mature than another person. Or, worse, that one group is more mature than another. It’s not the facts that bothers me per se though. Some people really are more mature and more grounded in their faith. What bothers me is what we really mean when we lob that label across a person. It means that they are more mature in the things we care about.
For a conservative church, that means the person can quote scripture forward and backward, has a disciplined prayer time every day, and has self control in matters of food, alcohol, sex, and speech.
For a liberal church, it means that the person can maintain their own views and listen to others. (If you don’t believe me, check out this article.)
Both of those camps’ values convey something about maturity. A mature person certainly will be more temperate and more self controlled, both in actions and conversations. But the people that are truly mature are on both sides of the family, and sometimes in between. And you know what I’ve noticed about the people who are the most mature? They often don’t get noticed.
The person that is mature is simply this: the one who chooses to act out of love, no matter the consequence or benefit. They’re not the ones that are usually on the platform. They’re usually the ones hurt, standing in the back because they took on the person in the church that no one else would friend and are giving them grace at great cost to themselves. They’re usually the ones on the other end of the phone, listening, giving advice that will get ignored until someone else says it later. But they’re faithfully planting that seed. They’re the ones who pray and don’t tell you most of the time. The ones who serve you with such honor and dignity that you don’t even realize that it’s costing them something to do it.
They are patient and kind and slow to anger. They don’t boast or care about their needs as a matter or importance. They ALSO forgive easily, avoid grudges, brush silly and ignorant comments away, and they do rejoice in the truth. (Not surprisingly, the scripture has it right.) They’re the people that everyone likes, but no one thinks to invite anywhere.
The next time you think that you want advice or a sermon or a book from a mature Christian, go ahead and pick up that book from your favorite author. But also, look over your shoulder at the person that you know bears with you the most. They may be the person you most want to listen to and emulate. There’s great wisdom and maturity all around you.