I have a confession to make. I’m not very proud of this, and in fact I laugh a little at myself for thinking it, especially for when I had the thought. When I was in high school, I thought that I was not being fed spiritually. I was convinced that I had achieved a level of spiritual maturity beyond that of what was being given to me. The problem, however, was that I didn’t understand what maturity in Christ meant. I had grown up in the church, went to Christian school, and participated in Bible Bowl. In other words, I (thought) I knew the Bible really well. I had large chunks memorized and at times could identify the chapter of the story or quotation. I was equating knowledge with maturity. On top of that, I was a good kid. Obviously I was doing something right.
However, as we learn in the next section of Life on Mission, this is not maturity. Sure, it is good to know the Bible and do good things, but this does not make us mature. Tim Harlow writes, “Spiritual growth is not memorizing Bible verses so you can spout them off to impress people. Growth is not about who is the best at following the rules and not sinning. The Pharisees were great at that and yet didn’t even show up on Jesus’ spiritual growth continuum.” 1
I was a Pharisee.
Now I do want to say that my teachers, ministers, Bible Bowl leaders, and parents would have told me (and probably did tell me) this truth, but I was in high school. I thought I knew it all. Obviously I didn’t and I’m still growing even now. I had to learn, however, to eat and grow in the right way. Bible study for knowledge is good, but feeding your mind doesn’t help your whole self grow. We are also commanded to love God with our heart, soul, and strength too.
So what does growing and eating have to do with a Life on Mission?
Our mission is to make disciples and as Mont said this week in his sermon, “In order to make disciples, we have to become disciples.” A false definition of maturity comes from a false definition of discipleship. I defined discipleship in primarily intellectual terms. It was about knowing scripture. In reality, discipleship is about becoming like Jesus. Knowledge helps, but that’s not all there is to it. We need to learn to be like Jesus so that we can show others how to be like Jesus. That’s how we make disciples.
Now that I have a better understanding of being a disciple, I don’t think I’ll say that I’m not being fed. Instead I’m thankful that I am surrounded by friends, family, teachers, ministers, and coworkers who help me what it is to be like Jesus. I’m also especially thankful for those who used to put up with me and still put up with me as I walk the path of Christ. I pray that I am able to do for others as has been done for me. I pray that I will be able say what Paul said to the Corinthians, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” 2
I challenge you this week to find the areas where you think you are mature and ask God to show you where you still need to grow.