What happened to the idea of growing up? The idea that becoming an adult and taking responsibility for our actions and actually moving forward in life was a good thing?
Maybe it just me, but I remember being told that working hard and becoming successful in life were good things. Now success isn’t necessarily marked by money or things, but rather by achieving goals and having a purpose in life. Anymore, it seems that the only purpose we as a society have is looking as young as possible for as long as possible and pointing blame at others for the things that are going wrong.
I had the television on this morning while I was making breakfast and a commercial came on for a cell phone service. One of the selling features of this service is that, should I choose this particular carrier, my service won’t be cut off if I forget to pay the bill.
Ok, I get it, we all make mistakes. Checks bounce, bills get left unpaid, or we forget about that 3pm meeting that we really needed to to attend. It happens, But to have a phone service that has a major selling feature that focuses on not having service cut off due to “getting busy and forgetting to pay” seems a bit extreme to me.
I don’t know about you, but I started learning from the time we’re babies that actions have consequences. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. But is seems that somewhere along the line, our society has decided that doesn’t actually have to be the case. Instead we have decided that we don’t need to take responsibility for our own actions and neither do our children.
If I smoke cigarettes and develop cancer, it is not my fault, its the evil tobacco industry that lured me into smoking and I was helpless. If my child eats a laundry detergent pod and gets ill its not my fault that I as the parent left the detergent within reach of my child, it’s the detergent companies fault because they made the detergent pack attractive and my child thought it was candy. If my child fails a course in school, its not my child’s fault for not studying but the teacher’s fault for not teaching the subject in a way that catered well enough to my child.
As an emotionally stunted society, we also wallow in the desire for immediate gratification. We want what we want and we want it now regardless of what that means for others. And thanks to technology, we can have just that. See something on eBay that you want but don’t want to wait for the auction to end? Choose the “buy it now” option! Don’t want to wait for regular mail? Amazon will send a droid to your door with your package! Don’t want to take the time for an actual conversation? Send a text or a tweet. Want to get revenge for your significant other breaking up with you? Head to social media and start posting pictures, stories, and slander and soon, with the help of your friends, the persons reputation will be ruined at best or at worst, the onslaught will drive the person to suicide.
What is so sad is that the place where we are supposed to find refuge from this immaturity is in our faith, but as I look at the way we “do” Christianity these days, I fear this same immaturity has made its indelible mark here as well. While I can only speak to the Christian realm as that is where I have made my faith home, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think the same thing is true in other faiths as well.
For many, the idea of faith is repugnant because they don’t want someone else telling them what to do or how to live their lives. They have not yet matured to the point that they realize that rules and structure govern our lives as it is. Or perhaps they realize this and believe that at least with their personal lives, they should have the freedom not to follow anyone elses rules but their own.
For those who are willing to look to God and have Him as a focus in their lives, there still seems to be for many a large underpinning of immaturity. Many who attend church walk away from a particular congregation or denomination because the sermons don’t “speak to them” or they don’t feel like the pastor and congregation did enough for them or their family when their loved one got ill or died.
Do you see the theme here?
Immaturity in life and in faith is all about where our focus is. What moves a person from immaturity to maturity is the move from self-focus to other-focus. At some point, we all have to realize that the world truly doesn’t revolve around us individually. There is a much bigger plan and purpose and each of our jobs is to be a positive part of that plan and purpose.
As an adult in the working world, this means that though I don’t want to have to remember when I have bills due, I still mark the dates on my calendar and make sure to pay the respective bills so I can continue to have the life I have grown accustomed to.
As a spiritual person, this means that I don’t focus on what the church is doing for me but on what I can do for the church. This also means that while God sent Jesus to save me – and each and every one of us – the focus isn’t about us individually but about God.
Now, I realize I might well tick some believers off by saying what I’m about to say, but please hear me out.
Have you ever noticed how much we focus our spiritual posts and discussions on what God is doing for us individually rather than what God is doing for the world? I mean, I cannot count the number of times that I have heard pastors re-write John 3:16 to say “For God so loved YOU that He gave His only begotten Son….” While I understand that this is supposed to make me feel loved and special, and at one time it truly did, what it does now is make me angry when things don’t go as I planned. I mean, if God sent Jesus for ME, why would God want me to suffer or want me to watch my loved one’s die or not get that raise at work that I worked so hard for?
Making Jesus’ coming all about us individually has turned our hearts away from spiritual and emotional growth and left us playing in the sandbox believing that it’s all about “me”.
If I believe, however, that God sent his Son for the WORLD, and I am a part of that world, as I grow in spiritual and emotional maturity, I learn to look outward and upward to find ways to serve God’s purposes, not mine.
I am not saying I have fully matured, but I am saying that we as believers need to seek maturity in our lives and in our walk so that we can truly be whom God sent us here to be.