The Mark of Maturity

The Mark of Maturity

I recently read through 1 John 2. Verses 12-14 say:

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.  I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

In the past, I’ve usually made a comparative list to try and cut through the convoluted way John has of expressing himself. It usually looks something like this:

 

Little Children

  • your sins are forgiven
  • you know the Father

 

Young Men

  • you have overcome the evil one
  • you are strong, the word of God abides in you

 

Fathers/Mature Christians

  • you know Him who has been from the beginning
  • you know Him who has been from the beginning

 

Then I usually look at the lists, compare them, and see how they’re the same or different. I remember thinking at least once, Gee, the fathers are getting kind of shafted. They only have one thing being said to them.

But this time, I realized something. The mark of mature Christians is that they only need one thing. They recognize that knowing God is enough. They don’t need recognition or congratulations.

This list is actually giving each person, whatever stage of life they are in, exactly what they need.

A baby Christian needs continual affirmation that he is forgiven. Apart from that, baby Christians experience great wonder at knowing God.

As spiritual teenagers, we often become strident, comparative. We count what we get from God. We have persevered somewhat. To get to this stage, we have had to overcome the evil one at times. We know the scriptures. We need some affirmation that we are on the right path; counting the points of affirmation matters to us.

A mature Christian isn’t so interested in fancy theologies and arguments. He knows that any strength he has is Jesus’, flowing through the soul and body. The mature Christian recognizes with every fibre of his spirit that only one thing is needed (Luke 10:42). He doesn’t just pay lip service to this but puts it into practice every day. That one thing? Sitting at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, and being with Him. The mature Christian isn’t shafted by having only one thing on his list. He has more on his list than anyone else.

That’s why renowned theologian and author Karl Barth, a spiritual mentor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s, when asked near the end of his life if he could summarize all his life’s work and theology in one sentence, replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

No other thing is needed. We can feast on knowing Jesus for the rest of our lives, and never want for anything more. 

The thing I love most about this list is that there is no lecturing about how we should strive to get to the next stage. Jesus quietly accepts our current level as necessary in the journey towards maturity. And then He gives each person exactly what he needs. Such delicate tenderness fills my heart with love for Him once more.

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