Maturity Is Overrated (James 1:2-4)

A couple summers ago I took in a Styx concert. You remember Styx, right? “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” & “The Grand Illusion.” The feeling of a warm summer’s night and music that magically transported me back to the 70’s was a glorious thing. Oh man… it all just took me back to days gone by and romanticized memories of when a severe lack of maturity reigned. Oh man.

At the concert, it seemed there were many other people around me… much, much older than me… who were trying very hard to relive those some days of immaturity. It was a sight not-so-beautiful to behold. Compromised tank and halter-tops paired with the betrayal of gray roots simply didn’t have the umph I remember as a hormonal teenager. Beer bellies and raised-fist rock salutes just weren’t as powerful as they use to be. Who were these people trying to kid? They weren’t fooling me, but was I just as foolish?

Maturity, it would seem, is highly overrated. Not too many are interested in the pursuit unless it has to do with our kids. I certainly want my teens to be mature, but I’m not confident it has the same value for me. Ironically, I even know the many necessary pains of life my kids must endure in order to mature into their twenties and thirties. I just don’t know if all that maturation muck is still for me. Why else would I pray for short cuts and comfort that can only short circuit my path to not lacking anything?

A hunger for maturity seems to be missing in our churches as well. How else do you explain the explosion of a soft, small-God gospel of prosperity? Book sales and packed churches are off the charts with people wanting a pain free way to be the best “they” that they can be. Selfish religion, not rock-solid maturity, becomes the sad end product of our current, Western, American masses. It’s as ugly as a 65-year
classic rock star still sportin’ the expanded spandex.

Real maturity, however, can result in healing, depth, wisdom, and staying power. This is the stuff most people say they want, but few have the stuff to actually realize. Maturity requires testing. Maturity is married to difficulty, which is why we divorce ourselves from any semblance of pain and suffering. Again, we know this to be true for our kids and their development, but somewhere in our own growth we decide our own definition of ripeness is sufficient.

I’m not preaching at the masses as much as I am realizing what a pain avoidance freak I am. And why not? Wouldn’t it be equally freakish for me to look for new and exotic ways to experience the joy of pain and suffering?

Somewhere in a healthy middle, there is a kind of joy to be found when life gets hard. When I can see God trusts me with a hard circumstance and silence, then a deeper well of joy begins to bubble. When I understand my current “life sucks” situation can lead to a perseverance and maturity, then I’m able to bask in the glory given to the Jesus I follow and trust. Then, I can soak in a Styx concert and not feel weird that I’m not weird like all those other old people around me trying to rock like we use to rock. Thank Jesus for that!

Beyond a receding hairline, increasing uncool clothes, and music tastes stuck in a time warp, maturity has a definite price to pay. It’s a bitter-sweet thing. I can only pray that I, and a few around me, will still see the ultimate payoff as something to grasp.

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