Most people judge maturity by a person’s age. It’s generally accepted that as you grow physically and chronologically you will learn how to be wise and make good, successful decisions.
But that’s not how it happens when you become a Christian. God has a program to make you more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). But each one of us is on his or her own journey through this process. God taylors it to each of us.
Many Christians wonder what this process of growth in Christ looks like. I will attempt to give a general understanding of how God changes us and makes us like Jesus. But I will talk about the goals of holiness rather than specific steps.
When many Christians think of Christian maturity they think of discipleship. Growing in Christ is the goal of Christian maturity. But many disciples of Christ spent so much time learning about the Bible and growing in had knowledge that they forget the main goal of Christian maturity.
It’s not learn more things about God or the Bible. It’s to develop your relationship with Christ. Facts can help us understand God better but they don’t improve our relationship with him. We must spend time with the Lord and grow in intimacy with him.
We must make it a priority to become sensitive to the Holy Spirit, to sense the move of God in our lives. Christian maturity isn’t had knowledge. It’s heart knowledge. We must draw close to God every day. Just like our human relationships we approach God and spend quality time with him.
We grow closer to God through seeing his responses to people in the Bible, praying and communicating with him, and having a regular connection with him. John 15 talks about “abiding in Christ.” It shows that we must stay connected to Jesus at all times to be able to do anything worthwhile for him.
I often hear this illustration in dealing with husbands and wives, but the same illustration can be used to explain how we must relate to God to grow closer to him. A husband and wife are sitting in a truck. Little by little the wife moves away from the husband with every trip they take. Eventually she turns to her husband and asks, “Why do you keep moving so far away from me?”
The has been replies, “I haven’t moved at all. It’s you who have been moving away from me.” We don’t always realize how far away from God we get. I’m not talking about sitting against him and not asking for forgiveness through confession. I’m talking about our inability to meet with him every day, to grow closer to him instead of staying still. If we are standing still in our relationship with Jesus, we are moving away from him.
We must invest the time in our relationship with God as we invested in our relationship with others. God doesn’t move away from us. We are the ones who move away from him slowly. Our gradual ignoring God by not seeking him every day moves us away from him.
As we grow in Christian maturity we must seek the Lord and be devoted to him. We must make time for him every day. Our desire must be for him alone. What’s stopping you from devoting yourself to the Lord every day?
As we grow closer to Jesus in our relationship consider that we need to grow in other areas of our Christian walk. Ephesians 4:13-16 outlines Christian maturity individually and corporately. As individuals growing in Christ we must learn to be unified with his body, the Church, and in the faith (Ephesians 4:13).
Unity only happens when we listen to the Holy Spirit. Unity in the faith causes us to grow closer together as we have faith in God. This also means we know our doctrines and practice them in front of others. We grow in the knowledge of Jesus relationally and factually.
Christian maturity requires us to grow in our understanding of Christian doctrines and how to apply them to daily life. Unity in the faith doesn’t mean we all have to agree on every major and minor doctrine. It means we agree on the majors.
There are going to be differences among us on the minor doctrines of Scripture. I am a Pentecostal and read Scripture understanding that the Holy Spirit is integral to my life and the way I understand the Bible. Somebody who doesn’t have such a firm grip on that understanding and read the Bible with a focus on the Holy Spirit may disagree with my findings.
But we all must agree and have unity in believing the major doctrines of Scripture that talk about Jesus as the son of God, the Savior of the world, and the one he is returning for his Church. We all agree that Jesus is God, that he lived on this earth, that he taught us how to please God, that he was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.
So we have unity in the faith. We must individually learn these doctrines, understand them, and make an effort to grow in our interpretation and application of the Bible. The stronger each Christian is in a church the stronger that whole church will be as a group.
We grow as individuals in our relationship with God and our knowledge of our faith and application of the Scriptures. But we must also grow as part of the group of Christians around us. Paul continues to describe how we grow with other Christians in the faith (Ephesians 4:16).
Paul describes Jesus as the head of his church. We must allow Jesus to lead us as we grow in him. As we grow together in Jesus we learn how to speak the truth in love. If we lack either truth or love our witness and the way we treat one another falls apart.
Some people are heavy on truth and light on love. They come across as angry Christians who correct everyone because they think they are superior to them. We must not be this way. There must be love and grace in our conversations.
Others are light on truth and heavy on love. This leaves people believing that these Christians compromise with the world and are okay with the way they are living. They are very open and loving of others but it’s not loving to not tell the whole truth.
When Christians love on other people without telling them the truth they are not preparing them for God’s judgment. We must find a way to tactfully tell the truth in love, packaging God’s truth about sin and evil and how we need Jesus with the love that tells it in a way that people feel we are helping them to be saved and rescued by Jesus before it’s too late.
It’s a matter of maturing in Christ to grow in our understanding of how to tell the truth in love to others. Together we learn how to be truthful and loving to others. We learn how to grow together and work together as the body of Christ.
We grow together as Christians, as the body of Christ, the Church. So many times we find opposition to one another instead of unity. We need the Holy Spirit to speak to us and continue to change our hearts that we might care for one another.
Unconditional love is the ultimate goal of Christian maturity. When we learn to love others the way Jesus loves us we will arrive at the maturity Jesus is cultivating in us through his Spirit. As we learn to walk in unity with one another, ministering to each other’s needs, and loving one another and the people in the world who need Jesus, we’re getting the idea of Christian maturity.
We have a lot of learning and growing to do until we reach full maturity in Christ. The Holy Spirit guides us into being more like Jesus to other Christians and the world. He helps us to grow individually and corporately.
Let’s not focus on only one part of Christian maturity. We need to learn in our head and our heart the things that please the Lord. Jesus is teaching us how to unconditionally love our brothers and sisters in Christ and those in the world.
We draw closer to Jesus and he draws close to us. Let us focus on the facts and relationship we have with Jesus to grow closer to him, grow up in the faith with others, and reach this world with the loving truth of God’s saving grace. Leave a comment and describe how you understand Christian maturity.