Summary: Paul provides signposts on the road to spiritual maturity.
Marks of Maturity (Part 3)
Ted Williams, who died in 2002 was arguably the best hitter baseball has ever known. He was the last baseball player to hit better than .400 in a season. Upon his death George Will said in his column "There is no joy in Red Sox nation, a.k.a. New England, or in any heart where baseball matters." One of reasons Williams was unique in his ability to hit a baseball was because of how fastidious he was with the bats he used. For instance he used a postal scale to check that humidity had not added an ounce to the weight of his bats. He was once challenged to find from among six bats the one that was half an ounce heavier than the others without the scale…he quickly did. He once returned to the maker a batch of his Louisville Sluggers because he sensed that the handles were not quite right. The handles were off by five-thousandths of an inch." Some would call him obsessive, but it was hard to argue with the results. Ted Williams knew bats and could detect the smallest discrepancy.
The Apostle Paul has been urging Ephesian believers toward maturity and marking the road with signs on how to arrive there. Paul says a mature church will have a unity of the faith. It is unified in the essential truths of the gospel. Another sign of maturity is attaining to the knowledge of the Son of God. It means we are to be so convinced of who He is and what He has done for us that we respond to Him accordingly. We daily submit ourselves to Him. We daily follow His lead and allow Him to call the shots in our life. We live life in daily dependence upon Him. We respond daily to the reality of Jesus Christ in our life to the point that the balanced character of Christ is replicated or as Paul says, as “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Another signpost to maturity is to be as detailed and concerned for truth as Ted Williams is with a bat. A mature believer will be able to detect even the slightest imbalance or defect and will not be duped. Read Eph 4:11-14.
Our children live in a world that seems more dangerous than the world of my childhood. Even though we were taught as kids not to trust strangers, it wasn’t unusual in many neighborhoods to leave your home unlocked. A child could ride his/her bike in the neighborhood or spend the night at a friend’s house without much worry. We live in a different age now. The divorce rate has caused child-abduction by a parent to be a major concern. The Internet has put the abductor right in the bedroom and dens of our homes as kids communicate personal details of their life online. The Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard cases put fear in already suspecting parents today. In light of the times, how many parents today would allow a grown man who met our eleven year old daughter on-line come over and take her for a ride or visit in the home? It would be unthinkable. And yet many purveyors of false doctrine are welcomed into Christian homes and believers are like naïve children in not recognizing the deceit and putting ourselves in harms way. Here is my premise I hope to convince you of today. In the spiritual realm the dangers of false teaching are just as pervasive and may I suggest just as damaging as sexual abuse or kidnapping.
Certain qualities of a child are not to be emulated, such as being gullible and naïve especially when it comes to the truth of God. We have to teach our children early not to trust strangers because there are certain people who do not have their best interest in mind. The same is true in the spiritual world. Paul says there are some winds of doctrine that will cause a person to be tossed to and fro. This is a way of saying that many believers have no clue as to the implications of some of the beliefs they adopt. The different teachings of philosophers or of religious false teachers are represented as winds, blowing the unstable soul in every direction.
We live in world that says what you believe is all about you having the freedom to choose and no one is to judge your beliefs. To call another person’s system of belief wrong is the height of intolerance and arrogance. In light of the truths of the gospel, to be tolerant of all truth claims is childish naivety. The scripture describes being childish spiritually in a variety of ways. For instance, in Romans 2:20 and again in Galatians 4:3 being childish spiritually is akin to being legalistic and easily swayed by teachers of the law. In I Corinthians 3:1-4 Paul talked about the Corinthians being like infants because they could not eat solid food of the scripture, they were selfish and prideful and they easily succumbed to a partisan allegiance in the body of Christ. The point is being childish spiritually is a measured estimate from God and not just some personality trait or petty criticism. Are you interacting with scripture to where hard sayings are accepted as God’s truth or do you tend to stay away from real intimacy with God? Are you prone to grade the spirituality of other Christians merely through some external, manmade rules and are you highly critical of other believers? Are you trying to adopt a syncretistic view of truth whereby all religions are saying basically the same thing and Christianity has no more truth than any other? These are childish characteristics.