Two Signs of Spiritual Maturity

Two of the signs of increasing spiritual maturity are inclusivity and nonbinary thinking.

The more we come to know the heart of God, the more loving we discover God to be. There is a wideness to God’s mercy. All of creation is divine art. Every human is an image of the divine. No person is irredeemable. We have freewill and can fend off the blessings to our own detriment, but we cannot shut them off. God’s blessings, like the sun and rain, are lavished indiscriminately. Just as the sun shines on the just and unjust and rain waters the crops of good and bad people alike, so God’s grace is universal. God loves everyone. God sent Jesus because God loves the entire world. Applied, the gospel disintegrates all the divisions between rich and poor, female and male, Jew and gentile, black and white, Muslim and Christian, citizen and immigrant. 

That’s what makes nationalism, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia so antichrist, so dangerous. Such things throw up walls, erect fences, pit brother against brother, and result in genocidal wars and fascist oppression. Leveraged by lying propaganda and invented paranoid conspiracies, dangerous demagogues rise to power.  When it’s endorsed by religion, the lethal stew invariably gains widespread acceptance. Sacred texts are twisted, false prophets emerge with their visions, and the language of the dominant religion is used to support, justify, and enhance lethal ideology. Empowered by the twin beasts of political jingoism and civil religion, evil spreads its net. The result is a Christianity that doesn’t resemble Christ. 

Jesus, by his words, actions, and passion destroys nationalism, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia, breaks down all the walls, crumbles the barriers, and radically, scandalously, warmly embraces the rejected, despised, broken, weary people on the margins. As we increasingly press into the divine heart, we discover our own biases and prejudices. We learn to love the “others.” We eventually learn to love our enemies. We, like God, contain multitudes. 

Similarly, as we mature in grace, black/white, either/or, binary thinking fades away like a babyhood game of pattycake. The fundamentalist, like the Pharisee, like the child, sees the world in simplistic terms. It’s either right or wrong. People are good or their bad. There are no gray areas. Binary thinking makes us feel secure. We know where we stand. We live securely within our little worlds, surrounded by people who look, act, and think like us. Once more, unvaryingly, a would-be dictator harangues the vulnerable, playing on their fears, utilizing their particular religious verbiage, and promoting himself by reinforcing pharisaical thinking.

Spiritually mature people are comfortable with not having all the answers. They can sit with mystery and hold seeming contradictions in loving tension. They are humble enough to know they aren’t always right. They listen more than they speak. They approach each person and each situation with a teachable heart. A teachable heart is not a naïve heart. Spiritually mature people don’t just believe whatever the hear. They weigh it, test it, sit with it, draw what truth there may be from it, and leave the rest. The spiritually mature person judges no one, loves everyone, and lives in that marvelous state of fully knowing nothing.

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on July 12, 2022, in Christianity. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I like the concept of live and let live. God gives everyone a world mired in sin, and a free choice. Many journeys lead to the depths of sin, then find Jesus, the true lover of their souls. Therefore we don’t look down on anyone, but surely must pray for their salvation.

    Being female is no sin, yet the Jewish Rabbis of olden times thanked God they were not born female. The female has burdens to bear that many Rabbis could not carry.

    In the New Jerusalem, our goal, our Mother, the City Abraham sought, the Bride, there are no dogs. We can assume the writer of those words didn’t mean canines. Then there is a list of what types of behavior reconstitutes a person, made in God’s image, into a dog.

    Not by my judgment, not by a loving God’s best will, but the individual choices of each person puts him/her/them either inside or outside of God’s eternal family.

    Suppose the son of a benevolent Father does His will always, by believing in the One the Father has sent, and living a life in the pattern of godliness. Born again, even filled with the Holy Spirit, such a one knows he is saved! Maybe he becomes a TV evangelest and leads multitudes to the eternal Messiah.
    But then that son turns aside and doesn’t practice His Father’s will anymore. He has a good reason to spend the Lord’s offering on whores, since his wife won’t sleep with him anymore. So he thinks God will understand, and he continues in this lifestyle. Won’t he die in his sins?

    And another son, from his wayward youth, for a long time seeking pleasure among gamblers and drunks, experimenting in lifestyles deemed perverse by the Apostle Paul… suppose he, wretched in various addictions, cries out to the Father, “Help Me!” And the by the mercy of God, the Lord Jesus, sets him free. And he is free indeed! Thence onward, he does the Father’s will, in the power of the Spirit, by the supply at the throne of grace. Won’t all his many sins be forgiven? Won’t he be counted righteous?

    Sin is clearly defined in Scripture! I can’t plead weakness or upbringing or hormonal imbalances or even DNA mistakes as an excuse for clearly identified sin.

    Once the Bible clarifies what sin is, we are all condemned. No one is righteous. But that doesn’t mean unrighteousness is OK, and surely in the church, we can discern the sacred from the profane.

    To profess to follow Jesus while yet condoning sin in my life is the way to have Him say, “I never knew you, depart from Me.”

    You, the Pastor, have to preach the Word. If your own beloved son or daughter is practicing & defending anything the Word of God has shown to be sin, you have to warn them. Ezekiel was told, if you don’t warn them, they will die in their sins, but accountability will be yours.

    Long-time, married, committed homosexual relationships are at least monogomous, based on mutual love & respect. That’s abundantly different from Sodom and its gang rapes of anyone who came along. If I had to vote, I’d elect a person regardless of sexual orientation, based on their stand on critical issues. If they want to adopt, I’d be OK with that, rather than have children left unloved and homeless. It’s not my role to condemn anyone.

    Ah, but for myself, I had to weigh this matter of sexual sin. I could easily be the Samaritan woman, with no one to marry me, and finding my needs met otherwise. But I decided if any believer in Jesus finds their inner longings leading them to relationships which the Bible calls sinful, they ought to abstain.

    Better to enter the kingdom having slept with no one, than to go with serial adultery or gay pride into the gehenna of fire. If your eye offends, pluck it out. No one said the way of the cross was easy.

    Now I’ll suppose something that will break your heart. God hates divorce. It’s not just because of the ripping apart of trust and marriage vows. It’s because of the immature lives caught in the crossfire. Jesus said, What God joins together, let not man put asunder.

    Mom and Dad had good reasons to divorce, so thought the judge, and he granted mom the house, and sent dad away with his pickup truck. So they got free. My two brothers gave up God at that time. Eric, who yet lives, sort of, never honored authority figures again. His teachers were wasting his time. His counselor in high school said, Look, school isn’t doing you any good. For Senior year, you can work a job for pay and credit, and we will graduate you. But Eric’s problems go much deeper than forfeiting school.

    God makes boundaries for a reason,. We, like children, say, But Why? But this case is different! But everyone else is doing it!

    A 2 year old in a playpen is bound, and sees no reason for restriction. The 2 year old sees the ice cream truck across the street. No question, ice cream is delightful! So he screams until he gets his way, runs to the truck, and dies in traffic.

    It isn’t cruel to put him in the playpen! He’s not missing the tasty, best parts of life! Those boundaries will preserve him for a future of immense value, which he can’t yet see.

    Moreover, God’s boundaries on a person not only preserve that person, but many others. For example, a free 2 year old, dead in the street, will make his mom die of sorrow. But a weeping one, behind the railing of a playpen, will be saved, and his mom will still have a living boy at the end of the day. God’s boundaries, likewise, are not always reasonable to us today. But entering eternity, we will know we’ve been preserved for much better joy than the pleasure we gave up in this life, obeying God’s word.

    Paul, being a stickler for godliness, forbade communion to those in blatant, ongoing sin, if he knew about it. So did the Catholics, if the confessional revealed it.

    You yourself, around 1995, were informed by a pastor that a woman in your Bible College had cast a wayward eye at him. So you preached in the ampitheater, “If you’re doing that, please stop.”

    You didn’t say it’s OK, God is love, all love is love, let’s just celebrate love! You said “stop” to the whole ampitheater. Even if it had been your own daughter, “stop.” It’s very easy. No one will hate you for telling them the truth, in agape love.


    • There are multiple allusions and subjects here, which makes it a bit difficult to respond to. I will, however, make two points:
      1. I really appreciate your input. It’s encouraging to know someone reads what I write and thinks about it. Thank you, Mary.
      2. Because I don’t know, and cannot know, anyone’s heart, motives, background, genetic makeup, family history, state of mind, etc., I have no right to judge anyone. I’ll leave that to God.


  2. Chelley Gardner-Smith

    Larry- we are truly on the same path!!! I wondered where the Spirit may have taken you over these many years. Your words echo my current walk! Ever-blooming with more love for all!!


  3. Chelley Gardner-Smith

    Also, Larry, I am sure you are familiar with Richard Rohr- much of my expanding heart has been due to his teachings. Bless you.


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