He who fullfils the Law in his private and public life only abstains from the actual commission of sin, sacrificing to God the outward fulfillment of his mindless passions. He is satisfied with this manner of seeking salvation because of his spiritual immaturity.
St. Maximos the Confessor
100 Centuries on Theology
Over the last year I’ve heard a lot about spiritual maturity. I heard this at church meetings, at Priest Pint, and at other functions in my life. The most interesting thing I gained from these discussions is the definition of spiritual maturity. It seems that we equate spiritual maturity with how well we can state, or in some cases dictate,our belief to others. In addition to that, we seem to have a sense that spiritually mature people are the harbingers of the true faith which runs counter to Maximos and his contemporaries’ thoughts on the matter. For Maximos, and much of the early church, spiritual maturity was defined by our ability to embody what God calls us to. This system has, at its core, humility. Humility holds us accountable and reminds us that we are not the center of the faith universe, but rather God is. When I think of people like Mother Theresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, or Jonathan Daniels, who lost his life to save the lives of two black women in the civil right era, I think of people who embodied God’s love. They moved beyond their self, building bridges, and expressing true love in their actions. Its easy for any and all of us to stand on division because it rests solely in the world of me. It is easy to only form community with like-minded people because that does not challenge the me. It is easy to dictate our views of scripture, theology, and ideology while not listening, because that rests in the world of me. To truly humble ourselves means that we open our hearts, minds, and souls to real conversation, community, and revelation. When we remove the me as our primary mode of development and begin to see the we, we begin to travel the road toward spiritual maturity. Let us strive to find God anew in each other, in the world, and especially in the things that challenge us.