May 31, 2019

Biblical Maturity

By Clint Harrison

Shouldn’t I be better than this by now? Have you ever asked yourself that question? How can someone who’s walked with Jesus for years still struggle to read the Bible consistently? How can a faithful Christian still battle addiction? Or depression? Or chronic discontentment?

I used to believe biblical maturity looked something like this:

Ever since becoming a Christian at the age of sixteen, I assumed I was on a steady, uphill journey toward becoming more like Jesus. It makes sense, right? If you’re reading the Bible, praying, and getting involved in church, you should be growing. Every day you should be a little less selfish. A little more holy. Maybe a little better at parenting, or leading co-workers, or saying “no” to sin. After all, isn’t that what we mean when we say it’s our mission to help people take their next step toward Christ? If you take one step every day, you grow better…and better…and better. One day, you may even be a super-Christian! Like your pastor.

Do you want to know what biblical maturity really looks like? It looks more like this:


The journey toward Christlikeness is messy. It has ups and downs, pleasures and pitfalls. Even for your pastor. A few nights ago a roach woke me up at 2:30am. He was crawling on my leg, so I did what any brave man would do–I dove on top of my wife, who screamed and spit her mouth guard across the room. It was sheer pandemonium for a few minutes. When it was all over my wife settled right down, but I never fell back asleep. The truth is, I’m a poor sleeper. I often lie awake at night, thinking for hours. I could put a godly spin on it and say I’m praying (which I am), or I’m planning (which I am). But really, I’m anxious. I’m usually worrying about something beyond my control. Shouldn’t I be better than this by now?

Don’t waste your brokenness. It’s the most compelling part of your story because it’s the neon light that points to Jesus.

In a broad sense, yes, there should be outward evidence of a believer’s faith. In Matthew 7:16-17 Jesus teaches that we will know a tree by its fruit, and James 2:26 says that “faith without works is dead.” But true fruitfulness and the outworking of genuine faith will always be the result of recognizing we need Jesus more not less. When we ask the question, “Shouldn’t I be better than this by now?” there’s a sense in which we’re really saying, “Shouldn’t I no longer need Jesus by now?” But the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we realize how greatly we need His grace. We don’t seem better and better, we seem more and more broken. More desperate for His presence. More hopeless without His power.

Biblical maturity is not about incremental steps toward perfection. It’s about wrestling with Jesus in the context of your personal pain. Encountering Him in the depths of your doubt. Holding His hand and walking through this unpredictable life together. It’s the place where theology meets reality. When we say that the mission of Grace Church is to help people take their next step toward Christ, we don’t mean their next step toward perfection or performance. We mean their next step toward a Person. What would it look like to trust Christ a little bit more today? To let Him into your grief or doubt? To celebrate His grace or rest in His goodness? What would it look like to leverage your brokenness for His fame?

In 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 Paul writes, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord…For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” He goes on to paint a picture of a beautiful treasure in a clay jar. The treasure is the gospel and we are the clay jar–the weak and ordinary vessel through which others see “that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

If the jar was absolutely perfect, made of flawless porcelain, would anyone notice the treasure inside? If you were the super-Christian who never failed, would anyone be drawn to Jesus because of you? Or would they just feel like they had to try harder?

Don’t waste your brokenness. It’s the most compelling part of your story because it’s the neon light that points to Jesus.


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