I have struggled with the question, what is a mature Christian like? I spoke to Christian once and told him that I felt like I wanted more spiritual meat. I felt that I was not getting enough of God's Word and in depth teaching about God. I was surprised by what he asked me after hearing that. He asked me how long I have been a Christian.
I told him that I grew up in a Christian home (my father is a retired pastor) and I accepted Christ as my Savior around the age of 7 or 8. I did tell him that about the time I went into the Marine Corps, I strayed and did not honor God with my life. I also told him that I had rededicated my life to Christ about 7 years ago.
He looked at me perplexed and told me that I sounded like a new Christian. He told me that most new Christians want to dig into the Bible and find out who God is, but as a Christian matures they will usually come to the conclusion that they know God. At that point they will be more concerned with how to deal with day to day life in this world.
Although this might be true of most Christians, it flies in the face of God's Word. His Word makes it clear that as we mature in our faith we should crave spiritual meat and feed others. (Hebrews 5:12-14 NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
I have also struggled with the thought that most Christians don't seem to want to know God better. Why? I am beginning to think it is the same reason that many people don't come to Christ in the first place. They are afraid that God will expect something of them that they don't want to have to give. They are afraid they might have to change their lifestyle, or quit doing some of the things that they are doing. Maybe they are afraid they will become a fanatic. Paul calls this being worldly: (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV) Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?
I have come up with two reasons that I think explains part of this. The first is that because I strayed when I was young and then came back to Christ, I realize how much He has forgiven me. Jesus said it like this: (Luke 7:47 NIV) Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." But yet that does not explain those who have been forgiven much who still do not long to know their Savior more, nor does it explain those who have never strayed far and yet long to know Christ better.
The second reason I have come up with is discipline. Sometimes you have to do what you know you should even if you don't feel like it. I started reading my Bible like that. I really did not want to but I knew I should so I did. The more I read God's Word the more I enjoyed it and the closer I felt to God. Then something happened, I got close enough to God that He allowed me to see Him more clearly. I found something wonderful yet kind of distressing about Him. I found that I was further away from Him then I ever thought I was. He loves us so much that He does not allow us to realize just how far we are away from Him all at once, or we might just give up trying to get closer.
The more He allows me to see how very far away from Him I am, the more it makes me want to get closer, and to know Him more. I get a small glimpse of just how much He must love us. He is holy and awesome beyond our comprehension yet He allows us to draw near to Him in our own small ways. The only way to get closer is to get to know Him more. You need to read and study His Word to really know Him.
Don't be surprised that the closer you get to God the more doubts crop up in your mind, the more struggles you have finding the time to read your Bible and pray. The more distracted you are when you get on your knees. Keep your eyes on Christ and keep struggling, the rewards that come with knowing our King better are enormous.
Also take heart when these doubts and struggles come your way, it means you are moving in the right direction. Where do these doubts and struggles come from? From God, NO! They come from the enemy of your soul, Satan, the father of lies. Satan does not waste his time on people who are getting farther away from God, he only attacks those who are attempting to get closer. You are either getting closer to God or you are falling away, you can't stand still.
Satan cannot take your salvation from you, but he sure can take your joy and with it your witness to the world. That is what he is after, that is why he fights you getting closer to God. He knows that the closer you get to God, the more you will be salt and light to this world and a threat to his domination of it. There is nothing more dangerous to Satan then a Christian in prayer.
I believe a truly mature Christian is one who realizes that he or she does not know God very well at all, and realizes that they are still not close enough to Him. That is the knowledge that brings a person to humility in front of the throne of an Awesome God. We will all react the same way when we see God face to face. We will fall on our faces before Him in awe and fear, because our God is truly a Powerful and Awesome God! Not one person who today thinks they are mature and knows all about God will dare to walk up and stand by the throne, throw their arm around God's shoulder and say, "How's it going today?" (Proverbs 16:5 NRSV) All those who are arrogant are an abomination to the LORD; be assured, they will not go unpunished. But: (Isaiah 66:2 NIV) Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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