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 (Manna 75: Towards Maturity)
Manna 75 Editorial: Towards Maturity
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Towards Maturity

by Sharon Chang

Growth—science tells us—delineates the living and non-living. All living things grow; the non-living do not. A pebble does not grow up to become a rock and then a mighty boulder. But little acorns become tender saplings and, in time, great oaks. Newborns become adolescents, adults, and eventually the aged.

Generally, when physiological growth is accompanied by intellectual, emotional, or social development, we say that the person has matured. In particular, parents hope that children do not just grow, but mature because then, these offspring will make the right choices to give themselves a good life.

Growth and maturity are just as indispensable in the spiritual sense. Before we came to know Christ, we were dead in sin. But the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice has given us life anew. Since we are spiritually living, then we ought to spiritually grow. And like any anxious parent, the heavenly Father hopes that we not only grow but attain spiritual maturity for there is much at stake. The mature will know the right path to take towards eternal life. The immature are easily led astray and quickly devoured by the evil one.

But precociousness is sometimes mistaken for maturity. A child who dresses like an adult and parrots adult speech is still not a true adult. So what is true spiritual maturity? How can we attain it?

The writers in this issue tell us that the marks of maturity are seen in how we live our lives. The spiritual infant is self-centered, but the spiritually mature understands God’s will and willingly submits to God’s higher purpose, even if he has to suffer disadvantage and loss. Such a true spiritual adult demonstrates his reverence for God in concrete ways—he lives peaceably with man, showing genuine love towards all, particularly those who are often overlooked. Importantly, he recognizes that it is not life on earth but eternal life that is most precious. Hence, he proactively fulfills Jesus’ commission to preach the gospel of salvation wherever he goes. In short, the true spiritual adult conforms to the image of Christ, bearing good fruits to glorify God and edify man.

Attaining spiritual maturity—much like the physical—takes time, the right conditions, and consistent care. Lifelong spiritual cultivation is indispensable if we want to grow as a Christian. We must remove the thorns of complacency and hypocrisy lest these choke our faith. We must grow deeper roots of faith by studying God’s word and through sincere prayer and godly living. It is often tempting to judge our closeness to God by how many miracles He has performed through our hands. We are so focused on the strong wind, earthquake, and fire that we forget to listen to His still small voice (cf. 1 Kgs 19:11–12). As an adult, we must seek not just the height of spiritual experiences but the depth of communion with God. Connected to and rooted in God, we will never lack in spiritual vitality, strength, and courage. Instead, we shall mature “… to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).

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Author: Sharon Chang