Watching Washington implode in on itself this week and hearing reports that say “just the fact that they’re talking is a huge step” got me thinking: how do I so quickly spot immaturity in them? And how do I spot maturity in a fellow Christian?
In the psyche of Christians in the U.S. is this idea of the perfect faith. And a lot of our Congress persons campaigned on this ideal.
It is one that has sorted through all the doubts, all the ethical and political issues, all the struggles of family life, all the laziness that keeps us from having our “Quiet Times,” all our angst over our place in this world and whether or not we’re really making a difference. This perfect faith is well dressed (in a traditional church that’s a dress or a suit; in a hipper church, that’s jeans and a plaid shirt). And above all, this faith sits above the rest of us all. When it encounters a faith that is different in depth or quality, it gives a sly smile and says “I’ll pray for you.”
The worst part is, you know this “mature” Christian really is going to pray for you.
That’s what we think a mature Christian looks like. Refined so perfectly that it cannot be tarnished by any foreign thought. It does not sway an inch in the face of opposition.
In my years of trying (mostly failing) to develop a mature faith, I have realized how the women and men of faith that I have deep admiration for that don’t look like that at all.
Often you don’t realize they have such a mature faith when you first meet them, other than perhaps an extreme comfort in their own skin, without anything to prove. Instead of letting you know how advanced they are, they will instead listen to you blabber on about whatever little insecurities you’re dealing with. They’ll accept those with a reassuring smile, or a warm hand hold, that makes you feel that this is the most important and unique problem in the history of faith. When you’re in their presence, all you think about is yourself, because when you’re in their presence, they have mastered the art of making you feel that you are the important person you are. I guess that’s called love.
As you leave the conversation, thinking about how great you are, it hits you: “Oh my God. She is an absolute beast of faith!”
There is a time and place for standing your ground in faith. But more often, sinking your heels in, closing your ears and humming your favorite Fanny Crosby tune is the exact opposite of courage. Mature faith gets rid of such fear.
Mature faith encounters newness and difference as an opportunity to love and grow, not as a danger to its own security.
This is the quickest way I know to spot a mature faith.
God help the folks in Congress to get over themselves and see the other side. And God help me to do the impossible: love them through it.