So how do American Christians define spiritual maturity? I don’t know how it happened (but I’d be interested to find out*) but somewhere along the line we have equated spiritual knowledge with spiritual maturity.
We see this in all kinds of ways.
- Who is in the person who leads the small group? Well, the person who knows the most, of course.
- Who is revered in your church? The person who knows the most, of course.
- Bible college professors are held up as spiritual giants. Why? Is it because of their intimacy with God? No. Because of their obedience to God? No. Because of their service to other people? No. We don’t know any of those things about them. What we know is that they know a lot. And that’s enough.
We believe the person who knows the most about God, the most about the Bible, is the most spiritually mature. And the only problem with that is that it’s wrong. Knowledge does not equal maturity. I have known lots of people who know lots about God and the Bible and are not remotely Christ-like. (And, by the way, I can think of someone who knows a ton about God and the Bible, could it be … Satan?!?)
Next time I’ll talk about how this misunderstanding of spiritual maturity has wreaked havoc for Pastors and churches and Muppets and people who press olives in Greece and …
* (this is a footnote!) – Do you think it’s possible that part of the reason we’ve defined spiritual maturity as knowledge is because that way we don’t have to obey? Instead of obeying what we know, we just learn more!
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