Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Are we too mature?
I don't ask this question loosely, and I'm not asking it sarcastically. I know that if we were to discuss this matter, most of us would argue that we all still have much to learn, that we're growing, that we are mere babes when it comes to knowing anything about Christ or the Kingdom. So I don't think I'm talking about the mental/philosophical question: "do we already know everything?"
Instead, I'm asking how our level of maturity actually plays out in our day-to-day lives. While mentally we might understand there's much to learn, we as Christians live each day as if we already have all the answers. I can spin it religiously with "Jesus is the Answer," and since I know Jesus I have all of my answers and *your* answers, too - making it sound like I've got a lock on the ultimate theory of life, the universe and everything (isn't it still "42"?). Usually, in this frame of mind/understanding, we are unteachable and unable to grasp conflicting information. Anything that goes completely against the grain is rejected outright; the only "new stuff" that passes is what looks vaguely familiar already, or has a different spin on something we already understand.
Case in point: most people know the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15). They've heard a few sermons on the passage. There might be notes in the margins of their bibles, telling of the younger son's "coming to his senses" and the father's open arms as he runs home to be a worker in the household. There are notes about the older brother, how he represents the pharisaical outlook of the religious leaders, and how his bitterness probably means he's just jealous that the younger brother got to have fun first. Most people already have all of this figured out, right? Or at least, they've got the major principles down because they've heard most of this before.
Now, teach something new, something that's blatant in the story, that fits into the context of the three parables (all of Luke 15), but that no one has ever heard of or thought of before. As the Spirit leads, bring out this new truth - like how the prodigal son was just lavishly reflecting a portion of the lavish character of his prodigal father, or how the older brother is a son who's enslaved in his mind while the younger brother comes as a slave and is welcomed back as a son, or maybe how the presence of a fattened calf meant that the father fully expected to have something worth celebrating soon, etc etc etc - and watch everyone suddenly get more mature. We'll listen; We'll take notes. We'll nod and shout "amen", and we'll shake our heads and say "ouch". And when it's all over, we'll be more mature for having heard and understood - while not having to apply any of it to our actual lives. We've listened, but we haven't allowed ourselves to be taught, to be changed, to be challenged, to be transformed.
In most cases, the subconscious thought that "we're getting it"... actually becomes a hindrance and obstacle to getting it for real in our lives. Our "maturity" reveals our lack of maturity, and our lives go on day after day, week after week unchanged and ineffective.
Just me rambling..........