Mature Christians Live Into What They Know


“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

After many weeks we’re now concluding our comments on this passage and I hope it’s clear by now that we’ve arrived at the conclusion that there is no arrival and no conclusion for the maturation of us who follow Jesus. Paul is clear on this point:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on … I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do…

On the matter of maturity we must conclude our thoughts––for now. But what’s this footnote that Paul inserts at the end of some of the deepest thoughts ever written on spiritual depth?

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

For six verses he’d been describing the godly mature as ones who strive for a deeper revelation of Christ, a revelation that includes suffering, dying like he died, soaking in his resurrection power, and leaning into the Creator’s eternal purpose. These people, Paul says, are aware that they haven’t arrived at any sort of pinnacle of spiritual attainment but are constantly in the hunt for a profounder experience with God. Yet, in case we get the wrong idea of maturity he tells us to “live up to what we have already attained,” walk in the truth we already have.

Though we strain forward for the prize of knowing him in a deeper way, we don’t fail to live up to the revelation we already have. For all our seeking and striving for a profounder place in Jesus, maturity dictates that we seek and strive to live up to what we’ve already experienced. We have to be vigilant about not letting our vigilance for going forward that we strive right past the lifestyle and purpose God requires of us in the present.

Radical pursuit for a deeper spiritual experience apart from living practically and responsibly in what we already know is not God’s definition of maturity. It’s not either/or, but both.

Some people succeed in dazzling us with their supposed spiritual fervor but God remains unimpressed. Give me tarnished limping lovers of God daily inching their way toward the prize of perceiving and pleasing Christ over self-indulgent spiritual superstars any day.

Pressing toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward has to be coupled with living our earth-ward lives responsibly. Never stop seeking deeper revelation but live in the revelation you already have. It’s a siloed spirituality that separates spiritual passion from moral purity. One cannot exist without the other.

This is the 9th and final post on How Mature Christians Act. Scroll down for earlier ones on this passage and theme.

Of course, one component to “living up to what we’ve already attained” is to help others to attain to mature faith in Jesus. This book might help you do that!

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