The Illusion of Spiritual Maturity

Often, in church circles, discussions arise that center around the idea of spiritual maturity … churches often say that the spiritual maturity of their members is a goal, or the goal.

Is it possible that “spiritual maturity” is not only an illusion but a dangerous goal?

While we are encouraged to present everyone complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28) and the word “complete” carries the idea of mature, what is the idea? really?

A couple of observations: first, the idea that maturity is a place to which you can “arrive” is not the idea. No one is glorified, free from sin, until eternity. Second, the verses in Colossians 2 which follow Paul’s statement about desiring to present people “mature” are as follows: “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The emphasis of these verses is about the heart and relationships and feeling secure in who we are in Christ. So, this maturing has to do with relationship and intimacy with Christ and others.

“Maturity” is an illusion when we think of it in terms of a destination rather than the pursuing of a relationship. And, maturity is not something to be seen as something that I have and others don’t because that causes “separation” from others and the goal as expressed in chapter 2 of Colossians is having hearts that are knit together with others.

If spiritual maturity is seen in any other way that living in the pursuit of relationship, it can indeed be dangerous. And, because of the way that the term is often used/abused by churches – perhaps we should jettison its use for something more helpful. Perhaps, it woul be better to speak of loving God and loving others (think Jesus in Matthew 22). How am I lovingly surrendering myself to God’s lead in my life? How am I lovingly giving myself to others above myself?

Labels, of any kind, (and perhaps especially the spiritual kind) often do more damage and produce more confusion than help. Asking questions with a humility that doesn’t allow for “badges” of honor might be more in line with the the maturity Paul speaks of in Colossians 1 and 2.


~ by Ted Wueste on July 4, 2009.

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