During church yesterday, the question was asked, “Are you spiritually formed enough to survive outside of a church?” This definitely was not something most people have ever been asked. And, if we are being honest, when asked, I don’t think many people knew what to say. We all like to think ourselves mature enough to handle whatever we are dealing with, so to be forced to judge our spiritual maturity is not something we do. But, let’s break down this idea of spiritual maturity.
The premise of this is two-fold. Both spirit and maturity must be present for this assessment. Let’s start with spirit. Do you know the Word of God? Do you spend time trying to learn about God? Either through the Bible, books by theologians and pastors, or through a community of people. Do you actively seek out ways in which your relationship with Christ can grow and deepen? This is what the spiritual side of this looks like. It is being proactive in your search for Christ. Knowing that some things will be a mystery, but searching for a deeper understanding of who God is and how we relate to Him today.
Maturity may seem like the easier side of this, but I would argue it is harder. Do you spend time trying to become a better person? Do you look at the world with empathy? When others point out your flaws, how do you react? Maturity is complicated in how we handle ourselves. We can act mature, but really not be mature at all. And when we think our façade of fake maturity is up we can then start to lash out.
Putting these together, are you spiritually mature? Do you know scripture actually means? The context behind it? Why people quote it, and if the interpretation is accurate? Do you take religion at face value? And when corrected on your ideas of God or Christianity, do you get mad and argue, or try to learn more about this new found theology? All of this can tie into being spiritually mature.
Sadly, our pastor cannot do this for us. He can lead us to water, but he can’t make us drink. The role of a pastor is to try his hardest to encourage his flock to grow with God and become more mature, but it is up to us, the congregants, to actually put in the effort on our own and do this.
So, when asked if we could survive outside of a church, it is not meant to sound rude, or insulting. It is a chance for you to look introspectively at your life and see if you need to make some changes. And truthfully, everyone does. We all need to grow. And the more we grow, the better we will do. Spiritual maturity is not something you will just have, it is something you work towards every day. And one day, you will look back and realize how far you’ve come, and how much further you can go.