My nephew is a mature, new Christian. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I’ve come up with a new definition for spiritual maturity: spiritual maturity is taking God seriously.
A lot of Christians don’t. They have their fire insurance, and for them, following Christ in their daily lives is an option. If they get in trouble, they pray. If they get enough sleep Saturday night, they go to church. Otherwise, they mostly do their own thing.
Jesus had an experience in the house of a Pharisee who invited him to dinner. A prostitute showed up and began to show her adoration to the Lord. His host criticized Him for allowing this, but Jesus asked him who is the most grateful: the creditor who is forgiven a small debt or the one forgiven a large amount.
The host said that would be the one forgiven a large amount. Jesus told him he answered correctly, then added, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
While ‘good’ people who come to Christ may eventually learn that they are totally ruined by their sinful hearts, it is those who have visible wreckage that appreciate most what Jesus has done and can do for them. These are often adults, like my nephew, whose lives have not gone the way they wanted, yet as they turn to Christ and take Him seriously, amazing things happen.
Yesterday, three ladies in my Sunday class shared “the difference Christ has made in their lives in the past year.” The first was an incredible story of the pull of God on a resisting heart. She told how the Holy Spirit, whom she called a “mysterious force”, urged her to meet some Christians, to bring her daughter to our church building to play a game, then to attend a Bible study, and then to come to worship services and eventually my class. She never thought she would identify herself with Christians, and even though she does not claim to be one of us yet, she knows that Jesus Christ is changing her life. She is taking God seriously.
The second one told how God placed things in her life that didn’t fit with her plans and taught her to trust Him anyway. She shared several stories of how Jesus turned events that didn’t look very promising into great blessing, and how she learned to have faith in Him when she can’t see what He is doing. She is taking God seriously.
The third person took several major leaps of faith, and in her obedience, God gave her great peace and joy and a surprising healing to a broken relationship. She also is taking God seriously.
When I became a Christian, my life was a shambles. I had no other place or person who could help me or understand. I’d been let down, betrayed and disappointed. I didn’t like myself and wanted to change. Jesus Christ revealed Himself to me, and when He did, I could see how much I needed Him.
He moved in, but at the time, I didn’t understand what happened. Later, perhaps through reading 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I began to grasp the reality of God in my life, that He had become totally committed to me, totally involved in everything I did. He watches what I watch, reads what I read, goes where I go. Just like the psalmist says in Psalm 139, He is “acquainted with all my ways.”
After walking with Him for over thirty years, there are many days that I still feel as if I don’t take God seriously enough. I get on a negative kick, or am grouchy and unthankful, or simply plan things without talking to Him first. Yet He is here, and reminds me that He is.
C. H. Spurgeon wrote, “ . . . there must be a hearty reliance upon God, and a childlike confidence in him. I would recommend you either believe in God up to the hilt, or not at all. Believe this Book of God, every letter of it, or else reject it. There is no logical standing-place between the two. Be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of divine revelation; a faith that paddles about the edge of the water is poor faith, and is not good for much. Oh, I pray you, do believe in God, and his omnipotence.”
To that great preacher’s thought, I humbly add a strong exhortation to myself; believe in God and His serious commitment to me, for because of that, I must also be seriously committed to Him.