Christians Talk Funny - Spiritual Maturity

This is the first installment in a new series called, “Christians Talk Funny.” In it I hope to help people understand some of the things that Christians say that may be completely normal to other Christians, but to folks who didn’t grow up in the church, might sound really strange. Today I want to talk about “spiritual maturity”.

What is maturity?

Maturity is one of those things that comes in a variety of “types”. There is physical maturity. This is starts in those awkward middle school years and continues into early adulthood. A great many strange changes happen during this time but that’s another discussion. Emotional maturity comes as we learn to better control our emotions or to react to situations with a little less drama… some of us never get to that point.

Maturity is basically the process of becoming mature. Merriam-Webster defines mature a few ways

  • “Having completed natural growth and development.”

  • “Having attained a final or desired state"

  • “Having achieved a low, but stable growth"

  • “Of or relating to a condition of full development"

There are a couple of others, but they mainly deal with getting older and I’d rather not talk about that. The grey hair in my beard is enough of a reminder of that. Still, I think that most of us understand what maturity means.

What is spirit?

The Bible teaches that we, humans, are both physical and spiritual beings. It teaches that even the world around us is both physical and spiritual. Nearly every religion agrees with this. Many non-religious people and even atheists would say that they are “spiritual”. Our spirit is the non-physical parts of who we are. Some would define this as including our feelings, thoughts, etc. Basically, anything that we would say is part of us, but is not physical is our spirit.

So, what is spiritual maturity?

Physical maturity refers to the physical development of our bodies. This process starts at conception and continues through puberty and into early adulthood. Somewhere in our early adulthood, our body completes the process of physical maturity. It enters a period of physical stability then, sadly begins a process of physical degradation.

While we will all reach a point of physical maturity, I think we can agree that our emotional maturity is an ever growing and changing thing. Sure, we may be quite mature, emotionally, at 25-30 years old. But, we will be quite different by the time we are 40 or 50. We will likely change even more in the decades that follow. Physical maturity is something we arrive at. Emotional maturity is a result of the experiences we have and our responses to them. For this reason, it is ever changing and growing.

Spiritual maturity is like that. Much like physical maturation starts at conception, spiritual maturation starts at the moment of *salvation. Unlike physical maturity, spiritual maturity never reaches a point where it has become complete. Rather it is more like emotional maturity in that way because it continues to grow throughout your life.

Ok, but what is spiritual maturity?

Ok, that still doesn’t really answer the question of what spiritual maturity is. We could very simply say that spiritual maturity is growing more like Jesus. This would be of an oversimplification, but is a good working definition. The Bible is filled with characteristics of what it means to be godly, to be like Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13 is often called the love chapter. This is a great list of some of what it means to be more like Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 is another great list of what it means to be spiritually mature.

So, Spiritual maturity is about growing becoming more like Jesus. It’s about doing what we can to move towards that goal.

Footnote:

* If you don’t know what I mean by salvation, stay tuned that will be in an upcoming post.


Christians Talk Funny

If you have ever been to church, you know that sometimes Christians talk funny. If you are a long-time church person, there’s no sense in denying it. We have a whole bunch of words that other people simply don’t use. They mean a lot to us, but many people outside the church don’t understand them.

If would not consider yourself a “church person” then you have probably heard some of those funny words and wondered what they meant. Ok, you may not have truly cared what they meant. But, if you have, then this series is for you.

We all do it

I’ve been a nurse for nearly 20 years. One of the things I pride myself on is being able to take the stuff that doctors say and translated it into something that regular people can understand. You see doctors speak a different language. They have a whole list of words that people in other fields don’t know. Heck, many of us IN the field may not know them… or be able to pronounce them.

But, this isn’t just true of doctors or Christians. The truth is that this happens in just about every field. Talk to an electrician and he or she will use a bunch of words you may not know. Talk to a carpenter and you’ll find the same thing. In fact, chances are, whatever work you do, you have your own language as well.

It’s just Jargon

Merriam-Webster defines jargon as “the technical or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group.” While it may seem that Christians are trying to sound super spiritual or trying to make you sound dumb, truth is it just the terms that we use to describe certain things. Chances are you have similar words that you use that others don’t understand. This might be due to the work you do, where you are from, the hobbies you have, or a variety of other things. When you use these terms, you’re not trying to make others feel bad, or show how much smarter you are than them. It’s just the way you talk. It’s just your jargon.

Christians still talk funny

I grew up in the church. I have no memories of life when we were not a regular part of a local church. So, the “church words” that many church people use are very familiar to me. Still, I understand how they might not be to others. That’s why I’m starting this series. My hope is to help clarify what some of these church words mean. Also, as I write other things, I will point back to these posts so that you can get a definition of what they mean.

What about you?

So, what church words have you heard, but are confused about? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear about it. Leave me your word and I’ll do what I can to explain what it means.

6 Things to Consider Before Posting to Social Media, Part 2

Social media has made it really easy to share our opinions about anything, and many people do. However, that’s not necessarily healthy. An article I recently read gave 6 things to consider before posting to social media. Here is the first point from that article, along with my thoughts on it.

#1 - Am I struggling with validation and approval?

Many of us struggle with a need for validation and approval. Social media seems to have made this worse. A great many people have begun to hang their self-worth on how people respond to their social media presence. Somehow we’ve come to value the thoughts and admiration of complete strangers or casual acquaintances more than that of the people who are with us, know us, and care about us.

This can lead us to post stuff on social media with the hope of garnering kind words, a large number of likes, or other types of encouragement. This may come in the form of an ever so slightly provocative picture, or bragging about reaching a weight loss goal. It could be sharing a picture of your new car or sharing something funny. It could be sharing a strong opinion about a political or social issue, or even sharing cute pictures of kittens.

Many of these things may not be inherently bad. However,  if they are done in an attempt to garner praise or for a sense of validation or approval then it can be quite harmful.

What happens if you’re not validated?

What happens if your post doesn’t bring the response you hoped for? If your self-worth is hanging on this, then it can take a major hit. Sadly, for many people, if a post doesn’t get them the likes, or encouraging comments that they hope for it can have the opposite effect of what they had hoped for. Instead of building them up, or making you feel better about yourself, you may walk away feeling even worse than before.

What happens if you ARE validate?

Perhaps as dangerous is the possibility that you WILL receive the validation and approval you are hoping for. You walk away feeling quite good about yourself. This is a good thing, right? Maybe, but probably not. You see the validation that social media has to offer is shallow, short-lived, and fickle. The encouragement you feel soon fades. The encouragement of someone who knows and cares about you can literally last a lifetime, but the encouragement from a group of random strangers and acquaintances quickly dies.

Social media validation is like a drug. It feels good… but only for a short time. Seeing dozens, hundreds or thousands of people like your post can really be quite a high. Reading positive comments feels good. Sadly, this wears off. Then, just like a drug, you find you need more. You can find yourself posting more in hopes of getting this high. When the same old posts no longer bring you the high you hope for you may find your posts becoming more and more extreme. You may even find yourself unable to be satisfied with the validation or approval offered through social media.

What should you do, instead?

First, understand that social media, for all the good it can do, should never be a source of validation or approval. If you are struggling with this, seek out people who actually know you and care about you. Talk to them. Let your validation and approval come from these people. It will mean much more and will last much longer.

Second, consider if the thing you are about to post, or the comment you are about leave is coming from this desire for validation and approval. If so, consider skipping it. The world will keep spinning without that post, and you would be much better off spending some time with a friend or family member, or maybe calling them.

Ultimately, take time to think about the things you post and the motivation behind it. If the motivation is not healthy, don’t do the post.

Check back next week for

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6 Things to Consider Before Posting To Social Media, Part 1

These are interesting times we live in. When I was a kid we only knew what our friends were up to by being with them. In order to know what they were thinking we had to actually be with them. At the very least we had to make a phone call and actually talk to them.

I remember once, as a school or church project, connecting with a pen pal in another country. This kinda gave me a brief look into what they were doing or thinking. Even this, however, was a slow process with days, or even weeks, passing between updates. Today, however, you can see what people are up to anytime. You can get a glimpse into what people are thinking, or what they think about a given topic. You can connect with people all over the world and stay connected with them throughout the day.

The internet and social media have made this possible.

Social media has also given everyone a platform. Nearly everyone you know is on social media. This means that anyone can share their thoughts on any issue. This can be good. I have seen some rare instances of good discussion of a topic, resulting in a greater understanding for the people involved. However, far more often this is not the case. It is much more typical for social media “discussions” to quickly become little more than grade school level name calling.

I get it. While I refrain from name calling, I have read some posts that make me so angry I feel like I HAVE to respond. I’ve typed some replies that I ended up wishing I had not typed. I have also made some posts that hurt people and that I later had to take down. The intent is seldom to actually hurt people, but the result sometimes is just that.

Recently I read a great article on some things that Christians should consider before posting to social media. These, however, are good thoughts for everyone, not just Christians. This post will be the first in a series based on that original article. In the coming days, I will share these 6 things to consider before posting to social media, plus my own thoughts on each to them.  

So, come back tomorrow for the first post in this series.

Love Jesus, THEN Love Your Family

In yesterday’s message, I shared Luke 14:26. This is a much misunderstood a misquoted verse. In this verse, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not have his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, and even his own life - he cannot be My disciple.”

WAIT! Did Jesus just tell us to hate our family and even our very lives?

Not exactly.

A little background

In this passage, Jesus is traveling and a crowd of people is following Him. Among those people are some who want to be Jesus’ disciples. However, these have not truly considered what it means, or what it costs to be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus turns to them and starts with the words we read above. He chooses strong words in order to get their attention. He wanted to make sure that the people following Him knew what it meant to be His disciple. He wanted to understand the level of commitment required.

Kinda like nursing school

I remember when I first started nursing school. This was over 20 years ago, but I remember the speech given by the then director of the nursing school. She said that we needed to kiss our families goodbye and tell them that we would see them again when we were done with nursing school. At the time I was married. She was not saying that I should literally go home that night and kiss my wife goodbye and not see her until I graduated. We lived in the same house. It would have been really hard to not see each other.

What she was trying to communicate was that nursing school was hard and required a high level of commitment. Nursing school was going to demand a lot of your time. So, it was going to be AS IF you had kissed your family goodbye and would get back together with them when you were done.

THIS is what Jesus was doing. He did not literally mean that you had to hate your family. The Bible is very clear that we are to love our parents, our children, and our spouses. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say that husbands should show the same sort of sacrificial love that Jesus did for the church. Jesus, Himself, said that we should “love our neighbor as ourselves.” He said this was second only to loving God. “Love your neighbor includes our family.

Love Jesus

What Jesus was saying was that our first priority needs to be loving Jesus. Sadly, we can put our love for our families above our love for Jesus. When we do this, we unintentionally turn them into idols. This happens a lot with parents towards their children. Their children become their primary focus, even to the detriment of their relationship with Jesus, and sometimes with their spouse. The Bible clearly tells us to love everyone, especially our families. BUT, we need to place our biggest priority on loving Jesus.

Love Your Family

As I pointed out earlier, the Bible clearly tells us to love our families. It can sting a little bit to think that we might have to put our families second to Jesus. I love my wife and kids dearly. It’s hard to think that I could love anybody more than I love them.

BUT, there’s good news.

The good news is that the more we love Jesus, the better we will love our families. The more we love Jesus and the more we seek to be like Jesus the easier it will be to love our family.

Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things our to the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Want to love your family better, learn to love Jesus more. Want to speak loving words to your family, fill your heart with love. Jesus is the ultimate source of love. Want to treat your spouse with love and respect, learn to love Jesus better and the storeroom of your heart will be filled with good things. These good things will spill out into the way you treat and talk to your family.

So, if you want to be a disciple of Jesus, love Jesus. Love Him even more than you love your family. This may be hard to think of and hard to do, but the end result is actually that you will love your family better as a result.