weekly theme #33*
week containing the Sunday between June 12-18
I think Christian maturity is a process, a lifelong process. That means I will always carry some immaturity in me, a fact my pride doesn’t like to admit. Yet I can’t deny that I exhibit, even harbor, some very immature traits. Galatians 5:19-21 lists several of my worst traits, including impure thoughts, jealousy, selfish ambition, division, envy, and the feeling that everyone is wrong except my own little group. Compare that list to verses 22 and 23, qualities of living a life controlled by God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The first list comes from a view that people are to be used or rejected, but the second list comes from the spirit of unity and sacrifice.
I cannot mature spiritually on my own. God created me for fellowship, and I am dependent upon it for counsel, encouragement, accountability, and more. However, fellowship also has consequences such as frustration, disappointment, and anger. Fellowship is not safe. It removes the insulation of isolation and forces me into the real world with real people. It creates the opportunity to experience sacrifice – my sacrifice on behalf of others and others on behalf of me. “Better safe than sorry” must not stop me from the risk of fellowship because I can play it “safe” and still be sorry.
It seems that physical maturity happens automatically, without much input or effort on my part. However, spiritual maturity seems to be such work. I think that’s because I’m so “at home” in the body that I don’t consider getting exercise, nourishment, and rest as work. (Well, maybe the exercise sometimes!) In contrast, defining spiritual exercise, nourishment, and rest is difficult, and then doing them seems unnatural. How do I become more “at home” with the Lord than I do with the world?
There is a story that tells of a man-made of salt who had lived his whole live on dry land. One day he was confronted by a ground he had never seen; it was moving, noisy, and unknown. He asked, “What are you?” It answered, “I am the river.” The man tried to understand the river but could not – until he stepped into it. The man shuddered when he realized that he had given part of himself to the river to understand it. But, over time, he became more “at home” in the water, even though it cost more and more of himself. Finally, he gave it his all. (adapted from Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom)
*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections. I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used. It truly lives up to its title.