Posts Tagged ‘spiritual maturity’

Philippians 3:12-16Forward in Christ

Via Egnatia in Philippi

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. 

These verses refer to our spiritual maturity, our willingness to empty our selves in order to allow Christ to enter. It is a common theme in Paul’s writings: being a slave for Christ.

Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won [the prize]; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.

So many times we look at ourselves, at people and at situations and we see only the defects, the weaknesses, the lacks, the wants. We will feel less frustrated and anxious if we accept what is before us, and pray for those impossible potentialities that we perceive. I believe that is what God does with each of us. God creates us with a maximum and minimum. When we fall, God stoops to raise us up, still dreaming of our best self. We need to dream of our best selves as well, and leave God’s work to God.

All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude. But if some of you have a different attitude, God will make this clear to you. However that may be, let us go forward according to the same rules we have followed until now.

In Eastertide, we celebrate God’s presence in a special way. Today we have the opportunity to explore our response to Christ. When we are unable to rise to our potential, we call upon God for strength and renewal. When we find joy in our lives, we thank God the creator who has made us, Christ the Redeemer who saves us, and God the Spirit who heals us. When we consider our strengths and weaknesses as children of this loving God, we realize that God wants nothing more than for us to run with joy toward the goal of great union in Christ.

Today and all days, let us run straight toward the goal to win the prize. Let us run forward in Christ.

Adapted from a favorite written on May 1, 2007.

When we explore the story of Philippi, we learn that many retired military lived in the city. Perhaps it is for this reason that it was seen as a small version of Rome. Knowing this, we begin to see why Paul writes this letter in the context of competition and prize-winning. How might we put ourselves in this place, with these people, to hear the Word as spoken through Paul? How might we take in these verses to strength our resolve to run the good race? 

When we compare translations of these verses, we are patient with our weaknesses and we bolster our resolve. 

Click on the image to learn more about this ancient city. Image from: https://www.ancient.eu/Philippi/ 

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Ephesians 4: Seek Ripening

Friday, December 1, 2017

Richard Rohr, OFM explains that we learn wisdom and have no need to judge others when we allow ourselves to ripen in God’s image, to mature in Christ’s love, to grow in the Spirit’s patience and perseverance.

“If we are to speak of a spirituality of ripening, we need to recognize that it is always characterized by an increasing tolerance for ambiguity, a growing sense of subtlety, an ever-larger ability to include and allow, and a capacity to live with contradictions and even to love them!” (Rohr 346)

Paul tells the Ephesians, and he tells us: And so we shall all come together to that oneness in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God; we shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature. (GNT)

God says: You have no need to judge one another. You have no need to point out specks on the eyes of others. You have no need to strain gnats before drinking from the cup I offer you. Do you see yourself swallowing camels or does the log in your eye keep you from discerning your own image? How do you represent me in the world? How do you act as my hands and feet, lips and eyes, heart and mind? My Spirit lives in you to bring you wisdom and patience. My Son lives in you to bring courage and persistence. I live in you to bring you strength and maturity.When you welcome ripening, you will suffer loss but this loss is a gain when you allow me to suffer with you. When you welcome maturity, your desire to protect yourself or to win at all costs will disappear because when you fully welcome me you will learn that with me a loss is a gain and a gain is a loss. When you ripen in me, you never grow old. When you mature in me, you never fear the woes of the world. When you grow in me, there is no limit to your patience and love. Come to me when you worry about gnats and camels, specks and beams, rights and wrongs. Come to me, and you will have need of nothing more, for my love alone is enough.

Today we God offers us an opportunity to seek growth, wisdom and maturity. God calls us to ripen in the Spirit, and to come to full season in Christ.

We turn to Luke 6:37-42 and Matthew 23 to remind ourselves of Christ’s warning against judging others.

Enter the words spiritual maturity into the blog search bar to explore other reflections on how we might grow in Christ.

Click on the spiritual path image for a Huffington Post blog post on signs of spiritual maturity. 

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

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Ephesians 1: A Loving, Warrior God

Friday, July 22, 2016ephesians 1

Knowing that spiritual maturity comes with trusting God and following Jesus, we may want to turn to Paul’s letter to the community in Ephesus since this is a letter to a people who wish to be spiritual warriors.  It is a document which outlines how one is to follow a Loving, Warrior God.

When we find ourselves locked in battle with something evil, when we suddenly find that we are in a maze of darkness and deception, when fear grabs hold and there seems to be no method of loosening the grip of the pit that yawns below us . . . we must read the Letter to the Ephesians.

We know that we live in, of and for Christ when lies sting us.

We know that we live in, of and for Christ when deception frightens us.

We know that we live in, of and for Christ when hope is all we need to hang onto.

We know that we live in, of and for Christ when we pray for our enemies.

We know that we live in, of and for Christ when we are speechless in the face of the rejection of all that Christ is.

inchrist_1xAnd when we feel that we must engage the enemy, let us do so as Christ does: with words and gestures of openness and encouragement, with hearts vulnerable yet strong in Christ’s love.  We cannot block out or lock away the people or situations who mock all that Christ stands for; rather, when we become one with him – as his adopted siblings – we learn to extend a welcome to our enemies while at the same time arming ourselves with Christ’s truth, righteousness, faith and Spirit.  Against these there is no bulwark for this is how our God goes into battle:  With open arms, open heart, and a persistent, loving call to goodness.  This is a standard we will want to bear.  This flag of discipleship is one we will want to carry forward.  It is the banner of a Loving, Warrior God who takes no prisoners . . . and who leaves no injustice unanswered.

Adapted from a reflection written in November 17, 2009.

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1 Peter 2: Walking in The Way

Thursday, July 21, 2016The-Way-of-Jesus-Spring-20152

The Apostle Peter tells us that we find spiritual maturity when we walk with Christ in The Way he demonstrates to us.

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.

Peter tells us that we are not the master builder and that we must agree to live side-by-side with other living stones in the kingdom of God.

Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. 

Peter reminds us that our journey along The Way will not be easy or comfortable.

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. 

In an age when it seems that the world is coming apart at the seams, Peter describes how we might arrive at spiritual maturity, and how we might make the world a better place in the process.

It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. 

In a time when it seems that there is no redemption for the world, Peter tells us that in the end, we must place ourselves in God’s hands.

Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

In the hour when we remain confused and anxious, we place out trust in the hands of the one who knows more than we can know, who abides with deep fidelity, who looks forward in outrageous hope, and who loves with a bottomless love.

For more on Peter’s own journey with Jesus and his life after Jesus’ death and resurrection, spend time with The Acts of the Apostles. 

Compare this translation with The Message by using the scripture link above. 

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1 Timothy 4:11-16: Working in Christ

Wednesday, July 20, 2016jesus+feet

Today we have more guidelines for arriving at spiritual maturity. We might take in these words to Paul’s young follower Timothy. We are reminded that we receive far more insight when we share with one another than we can experience alone.

Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.

We understand that spiritual maturity arrives naturally when we spend time with the tangible Christ – sacred scripture.

Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it.

When we persist in studying God’s word, when we continue to work on our relationship with Jesus the Word, when we remain in the Spirit rather than the world, we recognize that the journey we experience with and in and for Christ is the most important we make in our lives.

Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.

Using the scripture link, we continue to compare THE MESSAGE translation with others as we explore the journey of life and our hope to attain spiritual maturity.

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Colossians 2:6-7: Walking in the Mystery

Tuesday, July 19, 2016COLOSSIANS_MYSTERY_Web-2

We have heard that we are called to spiritual maturity and yet we wonder how we might respond to this call. We have read the guidelines for the journey we are making, and we understand that we are to walk with one another as we walk with and in Christ.

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Using the scripture link, we compare THE MESSAGE translation of these verses to the Colossians with other versions, and we listen to the voice of the Spirit that speaks within.


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Ephesians 4: Part Two – Rules for the Road

Monday, July 18, 2016rules-of-the-road

Yesterday we heard God’s call – through Paul – to join Christ in spiritual maturity. Today we hear the very simple rules for the road, given to us so that we might travel in God’s name.

What this adds up to, then, is this . . .

  1. No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
  2. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.
  3. Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
  4. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
  5. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
  6. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

two walkingAre these words we want to hear? Are they verses we are willing to dissect and understand? Are these “rules” too difficult to follow? Do they ask us to change our relationships in any way? Do any of the six requests above make us uncomfortable? Do we find some of the requests on the lists more difficult than others? Do we believe that living as Paul suggests will bring us to spiritual maturity?

Today we explore this chapter of Ephesians by comparing this translation with others, and we open ourselves to God’s deep, personal call to intimacy with Christ.

Tomorrow, walking in mystery. 

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Ephesians 4: Part I – To Be Mature

Sunday, July 17, 2016Spiritual-Maturity

This letter that Paul writes to the people of Ephesus is one that we visit often, and no wonder. These verses bring us a compact message of Christology from one who knows the risen Christ well. THE MESSAGE translation brings us a fresh look at these familiar words and so today we are invited to compare that translation with another that might be familiar to us. If we only have time to reflect on the titles, they alone bring us a new view of old words: The God of Glory, He Tore Down the Wall, the Secret Plan of God, To Be Mature, the Old Way Has to Go, Wake Up from Your Sleep, Relationships, and A Fight to the Finish. As we conclude our thinking about the life of Christ and how we might connect more firmly to his message, we take a last look at what it means to be mature in Christ.

From Christ, to Paul, to us . . .

Here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Are these words that call us to our spiritual maturity?

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

Are these verses we use as a roadmap for our lives?

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.

Is this a thinking that makes sense to us?

No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything.

Is this a philosophy that helps us to gauge our interactions as we grow?

We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Is it clear to us that we are not alone – and that we cannot operate on our own?

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. 

This is so very difficult since we want to please others. We too often choose acceptance from others rather than maturity in Christ; but Paul gives us a clear list of rules we might follow to arrive at our union with the risen Jesus.

Tomorrow, rules for the road.

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Isaiah 61:1-2: Favor from the Lord2013-07-07-Psalm-34_18

March 3, 2015

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord.

These are words that Jesus reads out from the Isaiah scroll when he begins his ministry. (Luke 4:14-30) Click on the scripture link and read varying versions of these verses.

Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., reminds us that prophets walk among us today. He suggests that we might be prophets ourselves . . . once we grow up. “It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way. People who refine this consciousness to a high spiritual state, who learn to name and live with paradoxes, are the people I would call prophetic speakers. We must refine and develop this gift”.

Spend time with these verses from Isaiah and Luke today and reflect on their meaning along with the words from Richard Rohr and consider . . . do the events in our present lives call us to prophetic work? Have we been gifted with favor from the Lord? Might we heal broken hearts and free captives from their worries? Is it time to develop our gift from the Lord?

Richard Rohr citation in this post is from “Self-Critical Thinking,” Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for Monday, February 15, 2015. http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Richard-Rohr-s-Meditation–Self-Critical-Thinking.html?soid=1103098668616&aid=rnft6vyUO0Q

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