Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Synchroblog : Growing Up

When we look at how we mature in a physical sense we gain clues as to how we are to mature spiritually. When babies are born they are completely selfish. They do not think about the needs of others, or the need for patience and tolerance, or the inconvenience they are causing by waking us in the night. Their crying is their only means of communication and they will use it often and loudly to let us know their needs are not being met. This is completely acceptable behaviour in babies but not in adults, teenagers, children, and generally not even in toddlers. However, becoming mature doesn’t mean finding more sophisticated ways of getting our needs met.

We expect and train our children to be less demanding of their own needs and therefore less selfish as they grow. This doesn’t mean we want our children to become doormats and cave in the demands of others but simply we train them to be more considerate and tolerant. Likewise as we grow spiritually we become less demanding of own needs and less selfish. It is reasonable easy to be put aside our own needs when we are dealing with strangers in the supermarket or elsewhere. However the real test of maturity is with people we constantly have to deal with in our homes or churches.

When a baby comes into a family, it is the parents who make the adjustments. They buy childproof locks for the kitchen cupboards, they put dangerous cleaning agents on higher shelves, and they move precious ornaments to safer places. In the same way the family of God needs to make the adjustments for the baby Christians. So who are the baby Christians? Most Christians make a commitment to God in their teens or early twenties. For that reason churches need to be making adjustments so those in that age group can have their needs met. Not a happy thought for many older Christians.

We should not be asking spiritual babies to make sacrifices. Consequently if we are over twenty-five we are the ones who are suppose to be mature and therefore most called upon to make sacrifices. "… because he (Jesus) laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" 1 John 3:16. Mature Christians are the ones who lay down their preferences for the sake of their brothers, that is, other Christians. Sometimes, rather surprisingly, this is easier with the big things. We might make a big financial sacrifice to help overseas missions or we might make a big sacrifice in terms of time to help a struggling family get better organized. Yet we are also called to make sacrifices in the daily decisions of our lives. The question needs to be asked, what am I laying down for "my brothers" in my own family? And in the life of my church community? Laying down our preference for the style of church service we prefer is one practical way we could make this sacrifice.

One of the evidences of spiritual maturity is sacrifice. We sacrifice not because we are doormats or want to avoid conflict but because we are motivated by God’s sacrificial love.

This post is part of a synchroblog on the topic of "Discussing Maturity in the Light of our Faith". You can see the posts from the other synchrobloggers by clicking on the links below:

Phil Wyman at Square No More with "Is Maturity Really What I Want?"
Lainie Petersen at Headspace with "Watching Daddy Die"
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head with what's inside the bunny?
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com with "Christian Maturity"
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith with Long-Wearing Nail Polish and Other Stories
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse with "the future is ours to see: crumbling like a mountain"
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom with "Still Complaining"
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church with "Maturity and Education"
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent with "Putting the spiritual infants in charge"
Bethany Stedman at Coffee Klatch with "Moving Towards True Being: The Long Process of Maturity"
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill with "Old Enough to Follow Christ?"
Joe Miller at More Than Cake with "Intentional Relationships for Maturity"
Jonathan Brink at JonathanBrink.com with "I Won't Sin"
Tracy Simmons at The Best Parts with "Knowing Him Who is From the Beginning"
Joseph Speranzella at A Tic in the Mind's Eye with "Spiritual Maturity And The Examination of Conscience"
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes with "Vulnerable Maturity"
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules with "What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity"
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations with "post-enlightenment Christians in an unenlightened South Africa"
Steve Hayes at Khanya with "Adult Content"
Ryan Peter at Ryan Peter Blogs and Stuff with "The Foundation For Ministry and Leading"
Lew A at The Pursuit with "Maturity and Preaching"
Kai Schraml at Kaiblogy with "Mature Virtue"
Nic Paton at Sound and Silence with "Inclusion and Maturity"

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

10 comments:

Erin said...

Wow that's fantastic, Susan. I love the analogy you drew to the church. I hear so much about how the younger generations are the "spoiled brats" of the faith, but you are right in saying how in a family things are rearranged to make life easier and safer for the youngest members. I like it.

Kai Schraml said...

My post on the synchro was a little late. I'd appreciate it if you would add mine to the list. Many thanks.

http://kaischraml.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/mature-virtue/

Feel very free to remove this comment after you add it. Thanks again.

J. R. Miller said...

With every new child I add to my family, I realize I have to sacrifice even more and grow up all over again.

Susan said...

I think I have now added everyone's links. If yours is missing please let me know.

Thanks Erin. I enjoyed reading your post too.

Thanks Joe too, for your comments.

kathyescobar said...

susan, i like your thoughts and expectations we have of babies and how that shifts over time...so good. thanks for sharing. kathy

Susan said...

Hi Kathy, in one of my earlier drafts of this post I included a paragraph about the way some churches measure maturity but the post was getting so long I ended up deleting that paragraph. However you covered what I wanted to say in this regard in your post. I especially like your reference to lots of God-focused, spiritual sounding words!

Beth P. said...

Hi Susan--
This was a thought-provoking post--thanks!

Sometimes I wonder from the big picture, if we ever 'mature' or if we never really get past the 2 year old stage of 'God's purpose is to give me what I want, if I'm a good person, etc'. So maybe it's stages of maturing that can allow us to see the youth among us as just mirrors of our own eternal immaturity in the light of the Love that God is?

Thanks again!!

Rachel said...

Hey Susan how do you set up a synchroblog?

God bless..

Rachel

Susan said...

Thanks Beth for dropping by. I'd like to think we get past the 2 year old stage but some days ...

Susan said...

Hi Rachel,
I actually didn't set up the synchroblog. Back in August Erin posted about it here and I click on the links and subscribed. Feel free to join us.

(Since then a second synchroblog has been started which is an interfaith synchroblog but I haven't got involved in that - one only has so much time!)