At the heart of Christianity is this idea of maturity. Many past movements have tried returning Christians to the purity of the early church (or at least a purity that they consider it to have possessed). But they forget that the church in the first century was ravaged with false teaching and immoral practice. This is evident from the letters we find in the New Testament. So the church’s progress is not by going back, neither it is by revolutionary beliefs or practices. Instead the church goes forward by growing up into Christ.
Throughout history we see that the growth of Christ’s body is tied to Biblical reformation. Many long held systems and institutions, assumed to be good and even Biblical, are then challenged and dismantled by the Word of God. The Protestant Reformation was a returning to a Scriptural standard, a foundation laid by God alone. Today we are in need of another reformation, not to abandon all that we have learned and grown into, but to move further and higher.
What is the essence of maturity in Christ? The author of Hebrews lays it out plainly in chapter 5 of his letter. He writes,
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a infant. But solid food belongs to the mature, that is, those who because of practice have their senses trained to judge between good and evil. (v 12-14)
The ability to distinguish between good and evil is one that must be cultivated. It takes time. In fact, the issue with many young believers is that they don’t take time to grow into understanding the difference between good and evil. On the other hand, older Christians must not give into a gray sense of morality. I have seen older believers who have given up the fight, and in the name of maturity have accepted what is untrue (and therefore evil).
Maturity then, is the willingness to judge what is presented to us (whether it is good or evil), and then to choose the good. How contrary this is to the present attitude of the church! There is a fear to judge between what is right and wrong. Really, a fear to judge at all. But the way upward and onward is by judging the wrong practices and beliefs that plague the church, because as Scripture also says, “Judgment begins with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17).