maturity matters

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Colossians 1:28

I was listening last night to an interesting Roman Catholic priest, mystic, Richard Rohr, on reading the Bible (not long, worth a watch). He was making an interesting point, actually more in keeping with the Roman Catholic tradition than with most others at least outside the Great Tradition, but that the Bible shouldn’t get into the hands of believers until they are brought to some maturity in Christ. I don’t think I track completely with Rohr, although I can learn quite a lot from him, he is certainly a man of wisdom well beyond what I’ve grown into over the years, I think.

But his point is well taken: the Bible in the hands of someone who is angry, fearful, or has an agenda is a Bible that will be misread and God’s message in it missed. It becomes a mere human weapon, but potentially wreaking great destruction: hurting, undermining, or perhaps meaning the loss of faith for others. People need to in Rohr’s words, “grow up,” before they’re ready to read the Bible for themselves and grow from the message in it.

This reminds me of what Scot McKnight has called, “the Jesus Creed”: to love God with all our being and doing, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We need to see all of scripture and all of life in that light. And of course with the main point of scripture in mind, the good news of God in and through Jesus. A good news for us as individual sinners, yes, but also for all the world.

And we need to read scripture and study it together as God’s people. None of us have the full take on it. The Spirit speaks to the church as a whole, not just to individuals in the church. In fact, I might want to say that the Spirit doesn’t speak to individuals at all apart from speaking to the church as a whole (Revelation 2-3).

Maturity matters, and I’m still working on it, and will be to the end. Hopefully I’m up to some measure of full maturity in Christ. But we have to remember that this a full body exercise, meaning all the members of Christ are part of it (Ephesians 4:1-16). Part of God’s promise to work out in and among us, so that we can hang in there with confidence as part of that, in and through Jesus.

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