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The Myth of Maturity

• Greg Boyd

In this third installment of the Throughline series, Greg explores what it means to mature in the Christian faith and how that impacts our decision making.

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A central theme in Woodland Hills’ history and teaching has been a passion for staying passionate. This call to always be growing and reject any feeling of arrival has been at the center of our mission as a church. In reality, as Paul shares in Philippians 3:10-15, if you think you’ve arrived and reached full maturity in your faith in Christ, that itself is actually a sign that you haven’t. We learn a follower of Christ is always pressing forward to what’s next, forgetting what lies behind and asking how I can experience God even deeper in my present and future.

We all experience situations as we get older where it becomes painfully apparent that our minds and bodies and on different aging scales. Our bodies aren’t able accomplish the same feats they did when we were kids. In reality all of life around us is constantly changing, not just our bodies. Our relationships, even with God, are in a constant state of change for better or for worse. We see all around us that without the application of energy and a sense of being intentional things naturally wear down and atrophy. What Paul is saying in Philippians is that there is no mindset of arrival, or sense of coasting in a mature follower of Jesus’ walk. There is always more depth to experience of God’s love, His power, and His grace in our life, we just have to be open and intentional about seeking it out.

Paul is simply telling us in this passage not to lose our first love – Stay hungry, stay passionate, keep moving forward asking God to reveal more of Himself to you, ask to be used in new and challenging ways for His kingdom. Life is not a pond. It’s a flowing river that is always changing so we need to stay engaged and moving with it.

One practical way to keep our passion as a follower of Jesus is to never stop giving thanks. There is a definite connection in scripture between cultivating a heart of gratitude, and the amount of joy and passion present in a person’s life. Paul was not motivated by fear. He was motivated by what Christ had done in His life, and he gave thanks for it constantly. We must keep it fresh and never get used to the good news. It couldn’t be better than it is, and we must remember that at all costs and give God thanks for it. We are to keep our mindset on the positives and not take anything for granted. The more you do something the better you get at it. This applies to both gratitude and bitterness.

The second practical tool to keep our passion it is always be seeking out and embracing new challenges. It would have been easy for Paul to sit back and rest on all he had accomplished in moving the kingdom of God forward, but instead he considered maturity being an attitude of always pressing forward and looking to experience God in new and deeper ways. If things get stagnant, then something needs to change and be made new. Routines are great, as long as they’re actually giving life. There is always something that can be made new – how we relate to God, how we pray, worship styles, new disciplines, retreats or conferences, books, blessing others as a discipline, paying attention to following the Spirit, etc. This applies to us as individuals but also to us as a church. We can continue to play a significant role in what God is doing in the world if we remain hungry.

The easy thing to do is to get used to life, get used to the good news, and let it lose the fire and passion that may have once ignited inside us. But as followers of Jesus, we are to follow Paul’s example in considering maturity a mindset, not a destination. We’re not looking to retire and coast in our spirituality, but rather joy comes in always pressing forward toward our goal and asking for more and deeper parts of Jesus.

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Topics: Discipleship, Gratitude, Kingdom of God

Sermon Series: Throughline

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Focus Scripture:

  • Philippians 3:10-14

    10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

    12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

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5 thoughts on “The Myth of Maturity

  1. kevin says:

    Truly, it is good to be trying different things and doing same things differently and it is paramount that we maintain an attitude of gratitude…but…there must be more in Paul’s theology that fueled his passion to move forward in Christ; granted, it was not any ‘fear of hell’ that sustained and increased his desire and there is something in his saying, “that i might attain to the resurrection of the dead” that does warrant a bit more exploration, yeah? Please, for the love of all that is zombie, preach on this ‘attaining to the resurrection of the dead’ part of the verse, yeah? Because i’m thinking that there is more than one resurrection.

  2. Jane Lindquist says:

    Praise God!!! Great sermon. I have gotten stale and it was just what I needed to hear. Also it felt so good to be back at Woodland Hills. I live 40 miles away now but it is still and will always be worth the drive.

  3. Erin says:

    Thanks for a great message! Very timely! On Monday, I sent in a manuscript to a publisher for the first time ever! Accepting new challenges.

  4. Tom McDonald says:

    Thank you Greg for this sermon! It is so important for us to be encouraged to keep stirring the gifts, stimulating the brain, the body & the spirit and striving to learn and try new things especially as we get older.

  5. Robert Woerter says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. I really needed that, nothing like a good kick in the pants to wake you up. I recently have had a major change in my life moving to a new area having to establish a new ministry and finding ways to fund it. I’m 65 years old and have been trying to follow Jesus for the last 42 years, he’s not failed me yet and I know that he never will, Lord help me not to fail him thanks again

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