Monday, November 28, 2011

Maturity is not my goal.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
Philippians 3:13-15

Maturity alone is not the goal of Christian living. Paul made it clear that maturity has a goal. It is the realistic expectation of all of our living. Mature Christians don't get to stop running the race. Instead, they lean forward and press onward toward the highest goal. The "one thing" Paul did was to keep at the prize of being with God in Christ. Mature believers live with the glory of the presence of God always in their vision.

Paul called on mature Christians to share his view. He made it clear that the more we grow in Christ, the greater our longing is to be with Christ. He assumed that thinking about our goals in the light of our lives being filled up with desiring God and His glory would be a measure of our maturity. And I agree.

But this thinking has practical ramifications. It is not just about a "happy in heaven" mentality. In fact, Paul makes it clear that those who have their eyes on this prize will seek to live out God's glory right here and right now within the church and the world. It is on this goal that the book turns to practical matters.

A life that is consumed with thinking about eternity with Christ will affect unity in the church (Philippians 4:2-3). That life will exchange daily anxiety for faithful prayer and true peace (Philippians 4:4-7). That life will think about and practice righteous living (Philippians 4:8-9). There are real, noticeable and life-changing differences in the maturing Christian who wants to live for the glory of God.

I have a lot of growing up still to do. I am going to think about this goal of Paul's. It is not that I don't want maturity. It is just that I am tempted to define it in purely human terms and in qualities that I can define in ways that make myself look good. I think of it wrongly, solely in terms of my knowledge of bible doctrine, or in my commitment to some program of activity prescribed by a church or a ministry. But my maturity should be consumed with the glory of God on display in my life among the nations so that others may see God and come to faith in Christ. It never stops running toward that rewarding experience.

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