There are certain “milestones” that all parents experience with their children. What parent doesn’t remember the first steps each of their children took, their first bike ride, and for some, their first day off to school? These occasions in our lives often mark growth and maturity in our children. These periods are transitional periods. Our children transition from total and absolute dependence to progressive independence. We often mark their growth and maturity by the increasing disappearance of helplessness. Children are born absolutely helpless and in need every moment of a parent’s love, attention, and care. What’s interesting however, is in all that the child doesn’t know or yet understand, he/she understands one thing very clearly: I am in need of care and nurture. Hence, they cry for us to feed them, clean them, comfort them, and love them.
A child doesn’t stay that way forever, however. As they grow, they learn mobility and they increasingly become independent of the parent in terms of getting from one point to another. Likewise, they become more skilled at eating, and eventually they learn how to go to the bathroom on their own. Parents train kids to be independent, to do for themselves, and their growth and maturity are increasingly marked by how well they do in these areas. Strength of character and resolve are absolutely essential for the child. Parents understand that as the years pass, they are not going to be there to make decisions for their children, so they teach them the skills they need to pass these pilgrims days as people who are equipped to handle life. While all this is positive and good, there is an increasing spiritual trend at work that causes a major digression in the heart.
In the gospels, Jesus tells us more than once that we are to be like children when we come to Him (cf. Matt. 18; Luke 18). That is, we are to maintain a sense wonder concerning the majesty of God. We are to marvel at the general and special revelation of the Lord. The Lord’s covenant love should fills us with awe that is manifested in rich and robust praise. We are to have a faith that is rooted not in scientific fact, but rather is based upon the word of the Lord revealed to us in Scripture. As much as we are to worship and exercise faith, we are to come helpless. So much of our life is geared toward becoming mature and to us mature means independent, together, knowledgeable, refined, and supply the appropriate adjective. Dare I suggest that we radically redefine what we mean by mature? Being mature has nothing to do with independence. Being mature means that you are wise enough to understand how dependent you are, how much you need, and how utterly helpless you are apart from Christ.
In Matthew 11:28, when Jesus says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, He is saying clearly, come to me as you are; come to me needy and wanting. It is not the person who stands tall that shows maturity in Christ, it is the person who is bowed before Him, helpless and in need (cf. Luke 18:9 ff). The mature are the ones who see clearly their poverty of spirit and approach Christ broken, hoping only in His perfection. Maturity does not say, I have this. True Maturity says, I have nothing and am nothing, but Christ is my all in all.