Picturing Spiritual Maturity
Updated: May 25, 2021
Having laid out God’s goal for our spiritual growth and His process for getting us there, it is reasonable to ask one or another of these related questions:
What does it look like when one has gotten to God’s end of the telescope – or gotten someone else to God’s end of the telescope?
How does one know when one is there?
When is one sufficiently mature spiritually?
When is one a Mature Disciple on the SM/T Graph?
When is a “Paul’s” concentrated work as a Disciplemaker done? When does his relationship with his “Timothy” shift to the kind that the Apostle Paul had with Epaphroditus, whom he described as a “brother, fellow-worker and fellow-soldier” in the lifelong effort of disciplemaking with others? (See Philippians 2:25)
Before answering these questions in this chapter, let me make something very clear. We are not talking here about an end-point, beyond which one does not go (or grow). We are not talking about a destination marking the end of the journey. Getting to God’s end of the telescope is not the end. In fact, it is just the beginning of the really great part of the journey with Jesus.
Getting to God’s end of the telescope is more of a starting point for intimately getting to know and understand God better and better. The whole rest of the journey in this life and all of eternity will be about that.
And getting to God’s end of the telescope is only the beginning point for looking through His eyepiece and seeing life much more fully and clearly, the way He does.
Imagine being a young astronomer and getting to take your first look through the 200-inch Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. Or through the 394-inch Keck I and Keck II telescopes at Mauna Kea in Hawaii? Or even better, your first look through the Hubble.
How much of what you’re looking at could you take in with that first look? Not much. You’d probably be so awed by the overall view that you wouldn’t look at many of the specific details. You undoubtedly could spend a lifetime just studying all the details in that one tiny portion of the universe.
Well, God’s telescope on life is much, much bigger than that. Getting to His end and taking our first glimpse only gives us a foundation of life-perspective on which to build. We will spend the rest of life filling it in and appreciating it more and more as we continue walking and watching with THE Astronomer.
Thus, we are not talking about an ultimate status or condition as a Mature Disciple. We are only talking about getting to the beginning of Discipleship. So when is one sufficiently – or adequately – mature for that, spiritually speaking?
That is what I want to discuss now. We’ll look at four pictures of spiritual maturity. I won’t say four different pictures, because all of them flow from the same basis – God’s Word.
Consequently, it is easy to see how these four are interrelated. But to what extent does each give us a “clear and measurable picture or definition” of adequate spiritual maturity? To what extent does each give us something we can “see,” something we can get our minds around practically, and something that compellingly draws us forward to become all God has uniquely created each of us to be.
In sharing these four pictures, I must emphasize that these are not the only pictures one could create nor are they necessarily the best or ultimate pictures. But I do believe that they are all Biblically sound, and each offers something beneficial for us to learn.
Furthermore, if none of these pictures work for you, then I admonish you to come up with one that is Biblically sound and works for you. How can anyone pursue spiritual maturity and become a Mature Disciple if he has no meaningful, practical, workable picture of what that looks like? And how can one become a Disciplemaker helping others reach maturity if he doesn’t know what a Mature Disciple looks like?
Here are the four pictures we will be looking at over the next few months:
Jesus’ Picture of Spiritual Maturity
The r12 Picture of Spiritual Maturity
Paul’s Picture of Spiritual Maturity for Leaders in the Body of Christ
My Picture of Spiritual Maturity