Christian Maturity and Secular Infancy

We are all beggars, and the sooner we start playing our role, the sooner we understand spiritual maturity and the blessings it brings. It is a children’s game to pretend we do not need our Father, that we are Fathers ourselves. It is a man’s duty to become like a child, not to pretend to be someone he is not but to know he is wholly dependent upon God.

Christianity entails many divine ironies—the dead man lives; the humble woman is exalted; the servant is the King; finding life is losing it; salvation is not by works; the Son of God became man so that men might become sons of God. Another irony less noticed by many Christians is this—increased Christian maturity always brings more child-like dependence. Spiritual growth from infancy to maturity would seem to require more independence. St John of the Cross purportedly had a vision where Jesus showed him various people praying, and those who were most mature were left without the embrace of the Holy Spirit and were, therefore, in the “Dark Night of the Soul.”. Those most immature were wrapped in His loving arms. There may be some truth to this. On the other hand, those who are most spiritually mature look for the arms of the Holy Spirit most frequently.

Martin Luther is purported to say that when he was busiest, he had to delay his work so that he could pray longer. Whether Luther said this or not, there is wisdom to be gleaned. More maturity and more work mean more dependence on God. Christian wisdom does not know how to be self-sufficiently successful because Christian success is drawing near to the heart of God. The Kingdom of God is one born upside down, and the least are the greatest.

An example of this truth is that humble service to God as a deacon is more spiritually significant than being the secular CEO of a billion-dollar international corporation. Why is a deacon’s work more significant than the CEO’s? Because the former is done in abject reliance upon the Spirit of God, and when that is done, the Spirit of God is at work. When the Spirit works through a humble little man, more is done than when a mighty man works outside the power of the Spirit. We may not see the difference with our eyes or in our bank accounts, but the call of Christ is to trust that a massive difference is there, nonetheless. We see reality spiritually and wage war accordingly.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the most successful people—in the truest sense of the word—are really the little old praying ladies with small groups of friends who remain all but unknown to the world.

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