What makes a mature christian? Is it reading your bible for two hours a day? Or telling every person that's sick, "I'll pray for you" (but not really)? Is it dressing conservatively? Or not watching TV because it's from Satan himself? Does being a mature christian mean you don't laugh at funny memes, avoid "worldly" things and never drop a selfie?
Well, does it? I'll admit, I kind of used to think so.
I thought being a "mature" Christian meant you spent all day praying and if you weren't praying, you were at least thinking about it (now there's nothing wrong with prayer, but my motivation was often to please God, not connect with Him). There was no time for movies or hanging with friends, there was little laughter and a long list of "right" things to be done. There was an "us versus them" mentality, and most people didn't make the grade. Fortunately, through God's grace and the wisdom of His word, I have discovered there are actually some markers that indicate true maturity when it comes to being a christian. I'm certainly not there yet, but it's good frame of reference.
They are based on a sermon I once heard preaching by Senior Pastor Garry MacDonald. The text comes from Acts 2. You can read the entire verse here.
1. Their life is not cloistered - "multitudes came together"
A mature Christian doesn't live their life in isolation. You don't need to go to Church to be a christian, but boy is it good for you! Mature people see past the flaws of leaders and programs and see the power in the gathering. They don't just point out the problems - they get in and fix them. And since when was our Christianity just about us? Jesus said He came to build His Church! Not a person, a building or a denomination. He came to call out His people for purpose.
Proverbs 18:1 makes it plain: "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desires, he rages against all wise judgment."
2. Their language is not foreign - "in his own language"
A mature Christian knows how to relate to people that don't know anything about God. They avoid using terms and phrases that "unchurched" people may find weird or confusing. "Washed in the blood", "slain in the spirit", "speaking in tongues" may make sense to us but come on guys, think about how weird that can sound to the unbeliever. A mature person knows how to communicate their faith with clarity and relevance.
3. Their experience is not dull - "they are full of new wine"
Jesus is the new wine. Christians should know how to have a good time (without getting intoxicated). I recently heard a a prominent leader in the church basically command a room full of pastors to "shallow up, people" (As in, be ok with having fun and not always serious)! It was probably my favourite part of the whole sermon, ha! Christians should be the happiest people on the planet! It's a very serious thing to have fun.
4. Their activity is not impotent - "3000 souls, signs and wonders"
You can see what a tree is really made of by its fruit. Bottom line, is there fruit? Not apples and oranges - people. Does their life lead people to Jesus?
5. Their fellowship is not fractured - "continuing with one accord"
Beware of the christian who's always talking bad about somebody. Ain't nobody got time for that! Mature christians control their tongues, even when they want to send them wagging. Immaturity lets gossip and slander run loose. If there's one thing that takes christians out, it's offence which turns to bitterness and dissension. Hurt is inevitable in church - be quick to forgive and keep a clean heart.
6. Their blessedness is not selfish - "sold their POSSESSIONS and goods, and DIVIDED them among all, as anyone had need"
A mature christian lives a generous life. They have an open house and an open heart. They don't hold their money close to their chest. There's nothing wrong with having money, just make sure it doesn't have you.
7. Their belief is not confusing - "gladness and simplicity of heart"
Let me end on this note with the help of old mate Albert Einstein. "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
I don't know about you, but I fall short on a regular basis. Thankfully, God always meets us where we're at and walks the journey with us. So whether you've got it all together or there's some growth that needs to happen in you (don't worry me too), let's all make an effort to simply show the world just how good our Jesus really is.