Friday, April 12, 2013

Growing but Still Immature

Every parent has heard these words form their teenager, ““I’m eighteen years old.  I can do what I want to do?”

Though a teenager can be legally responsible for their actions at 18, what they lack is forty years of life-experience.  At 18, they are just old enough to get themselves into some deep trouble and spend the rest of their lives suffering for.  They don't know near as much as they think they do.

Likewise the most difficult stage of a persons spiritual journey is when they are in their “spiritual teenage” years.  i.e., You’re not a babe anymore, but neither have you arrived at maturity yet.  You only think you have.  This is the stage in which most people become disillusioned, find fault in their church that they can’t overcome, start church hopping, or simply quit altogether.

They’re growing in the Lord, attended some Bible studies, maybe taught a few classes, are reading their Bible, and are on a journey of learning.  Then all of a sudden they know everything.  They know how things are supposed to be run and begin projecting their expectations upon the church and other believers:
  • If I was in charge I would do it this way…
  • They dont' run this church properly...
  • This church is not spiritual enough for me….
  • I’m not being fed here any more….
  • People in this church are shallow….
  • There's too much sin in the church...
  • Wa-wah-waah
Next thing you know they start missing church services because now they think they are spiritual enough to do so.  Instead, they attend a Bible study during the week and feel like it's enough.  They don’t need church anymore.  Or they start looking for a better church, or a more ideal church.  This is a journey – and I have seen it hundreds of times over the years –  that eventually leads to spiritual coldness, broken fellowship with the Body of Christ, and distance from God.

In contrast, the two groups of people in the church that are easiest to deal with are babes and those who are truly mature.

New Christians are easy to deal with, and a delight.  They are dependent.  They need nourishment and readily receive it.  They cry a little bit but that’s only because they have no other way to communicate.  They don’t know much of anything, therefore are easy to help.

Those who are truly mature are also a delight.  Years of wisdom have shaped and softened them.  They are mellow.  Everything doens't have to be black and white anymore.  They have a great deal of patience with imperfect people.  They don’t feel the need to express their opinion about everything.  They are less judgmental.  And they finally realize there is no perfect church in town and are content with their spiritual family.

It’s the group that is in-between that is the hardest.  A streak of rebellion and indepdence gets hold of them.  They get mouthy…judgmental… opinionated… and impatient with other people.  They always talk about what’s wrong at church... see everyone’s faults… and feel compelled to critique (criticize) the leadership.

Just like an 18 year old who can’t wait to leave home and get his own apartment, these growing but immature beleivers will often leave for the wrong reasons.   After the newness of their own place wears off, they soon discover that home wasn't so bad after all.

here are some lessons that can only be learned in the School of Hard Knocks.

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