Self-Made Maturity?

Last weekend, Gem and I enjoyed leading another Streams of Grace retreat at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu. Our theme was “Wholeness and Holiness: A Vision of Spiritual Maturity.” We focused on Philippians 3:7-17. Below is an excerpt from an article (“Spiritual Direction in the Reformed Tradition” by Ben Johnson in “Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls” that some found helpful:

“When the character of mature spirituality has been reduced to specific behaviors or spiritual practices, serious souls have turned the indicators into goals and have approached maturity as a cause-and-effect achievement. For example, if humility suggests maturity, than wearing hair shirts, flagellating oneself, and accusing oneself should lead to humility. Cause-and-effect thinking leads to cause-and-effect practices, resulting in a self-generated spirituality that depends on us instead of God.” (Ben Johnson. “Spiritual Direction in the Reformed Tradition.” Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls. Edited by Gary W. Moon and David G. Benner. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004, p. 107)

Johnson highlights the temptation to measure maturity wholly in terms of outward observances and appearances (not unlike Paul’s story in Philippians 3). In what ways have you perhaps seen the Christian life as something to achieve for God more than as a life to be received from Him? What vision of a good Christian life might need to go so that you can enter more deeply into God’s vision for you?

Consider penciling the next Streams of Grace retreat in Malibu on your calendar–October 23-25, 2009. You can get more information by clicking the link above.

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