“To be Mature is to be Basic”
(concluding part of a three part series called, “Firm Foundations”)
How counter-intuitive this is! Maturity involves a return to basics.
In other words, the path that grows our souls involves re- engaging with foundational truths over and over and over again! How confounding this is for us!
In some ways, it feels like being demoted to kindergarten just when we were getting ready to enrol ourselves in the advanced Shakespeare- club! We were so sure we were past that hurdle, but now here we are, at the starting line again, when we believed we’d walked a thousand miles forward.
Is that your story? Take heart. Scripture tells us, to be mature is to be basic! We’re prone to thinking that progress ‘stacks-up’ – knowledge upon knowledge, experience upon experience, milestone upon milestone! The further up we go from ground zero, the more mature we are, right? Well..maybe not! Maturity doesn’t stand ‘tall’, it dives deep! In many ways, it involves a return to kindergarten.
Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote to the community at Colosse quoted in context – “We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less” Do you resonate with that? Has it happened to you that just when you thought you were entering into dizzying heights of spiritual maturity, you were tripped by a circumstance, a stray comment or an unguarded emotion and it left you hurting in all the old places? Fresh cuts on old wounds driving us back to those basic life -giving truths: Christ, His love, His acceptance, His life in us.. And even then those truths seem so hard to hold on to.
Jesus said that the storms and the winds come to expose the foundations that our houses ( lives) are built upon. Houses not built upon the rock- solid ground of His teaching, He warned, will inevitably fall.
It’s so painful when that happens. Storms and winds sweep into our lives in various shapes and forms and and knock down our carefully built edifices of self-esteem, security and belief. We grapple, we yell, we kick and scream in resistance. Yet they fall. But it’s here at ground zero, as we rummage through the debris of our broken down ‘homes’ that we’ll find those missing and mislaid pieces of our lives. What we’ll come upon here is basic stuff. Stuff like the motivations and drives of our hearts, childhood scars and vacuums, the truth of God’s love, our never-ending search for acceptance, our tenuous trust in God.. It is as we (repeatedly) engage with this, the basic stuff, that our souls grow to maturity.
For this very reason, I believe that we partake in God’s redemptive plan for our lives when we’re willing to come ‘undone’. Maturity is often an unravelling process rather than the steep uphill climb we assume it to be. What lies at the heart of truth seeking is the willingness to know more about what we already know and to be willing also to question the conclusions we’ve arrived at. If we shut our ears to truth, either because we don’t want to engage with pain and conflict or because we don’t want to disturb our meticulously drawn conclusions or even because we believe our problems warrant a more sophisticated solution than revisiting the ‘basics’, we hinder God’s desire to mature us.
To be mature is to to be basic! If today you find yourself at the same place you were ten years ago, don’t despair. It might be that you’re not seeing some missing piece buried ‘down there’ or it may well be that you need to dive deeper into the truth you already know.
In either case, when you’re back at the foundations dealing with stuff you thought you should’ve worked out by now, know that you’ve not regressed but in fact progressed into the things that make for maturity. For sure you’ll have to revisit this place many times over, but as you persist in working with those foundational blocks, there will come a day when you’ll have the joy of knowing your life is standing on firmer ground!