I am a strange cookie, I know that. One of the things some know me for is my ability to be blunt. Some say, “You never have to worry about Mike stabbing you in the back.” Or; “Mike is a straight shooter, it is one of the things I like about him, he is real.” Of course over the years I have discovered something that will shock people. I have learned people lie.
I have discovered many people do like this attitude. I think it is part of growing up in a society that has people competing against each other. We are used to people using us like a broken down tool to get ahead, not for anything other than the satisfaction of self advancement. Along the way, many are hurt and others feel like used up trash thrown by the roadside.
There are those who like the honest, in your face approach when it is used on someone else, but when confronted with the truth of their own issues, they don’t like it; in fact, they may be among the first to turn on you. When one has invested so much time in the development of a relationship that encourages honest communication, few things hurt as much as someone who turns their back on you when they have stated you are a friend.
I have learned over the years when to be gentle, and when to be honest. When having a relationship with someone for a period of time, making serious sacrifice to serve and be with them, when having them request that you be honest, and then you confront them on something like their anger issues, their treatment of children or the way they treat people in a judgmental, condemning way, there should be a point of understanding. Often there isn’t a point of understanding because there isn’t a point of maturity that has developed.
I have learned something over the last weeks, something God is speaking to my heart about, that is the need for universal, uncompromising love, no matter what, but also an expectation that those of us who say we follow Jesus, or even those who don’t but consider themselves adult, recognize the need to grow up and develop maturity. I am not talking about never having fun. I am talking about serious issues, issues like growing in life, growing in understanding.
I can’t help but notice the immaturity in our society. While many do grow, one can’t help but notice there are some who don’t or won’t. I can’t help but notice immaturity when I turn on the television or listen to the radio and see the fighting and squabbling that takes place. It might be on a political point or a point of preference. It may be on an awards show where we see one jealous person take away from the moment of another who just won an award. We might see it when someone we know tries to get credit for something they either didn’t do or had a small part in it. The truth is, from temper tantrums, to the bickering and arguing, we see immaturity all around us, and the church is not excluded from this. In fact, sometimes, those in the church understand the concept of maturity less than other population groups because they have isolated themselves so much, they don’t always understand the real world and real world expectations. This isn’t just unique to the church though, this has permeated all reams of society.
I don’t know if people realize the prison they bind themselves in when they refuse to grow. Can a politician ever get back to the point of doing what is right for their country and constituency? Can a musician learn to joy in a special moment of someone even when their favorite artist didn’t win? Can a person of faith, really make the sacrifice to grow and be more than just a baby in their faith or life? Can they enjoy the growth process we call maturing?
I have a long way to go in my own life in certain areas. Let me make clear though, while I don’t always agree with the assumptions of others about me, I have learned that when people have invested their lives in me, when they have invested their honest to goodness friendship in me, that when they confront me, while I may not like their initial impression or thought, I have learned, they have earned the right to confront me and I am blessed that they are there to help me in my journey called life. Many times I realize that with some time, I learn points of growth, and I am grateful for that growth opportunity. While I have much growing to do, I have grown and I believe many of us need to be encouraged to continue that growth process.
To be honest, I want you to seriously look at your life. Are there areas you aren’t willing to grow, or haven’t grown? Are you willing to do what is necessary?
While this is an issue around the globe, it is a unique problem in the West, especially in the United States. Unfortunately, to many, we come off as more of a spoiled brat than we do someone who truly loves, and serves our community and our God. Thankfully there are those organizations, often Christian based who are doing great P.R. work for us, from Compassion International, to World Vision, and from The Mennonite Central Committee, to New Tribes Missions. These organizations are serving and loving others unconditionally and their impact can’t be ignored.
This week I use a line from William Shakespeare in my sermon, “Life is more than just an act.” I remember the song by Mike Johnson some years ago that followed this line of thought. Unfortunately, many of us need to remember, we can either go through life acting, or we can go through life living and growing. I want to grow in my spirit and in my wisdom until the day I die. I have hope, and I have joy through a leader and guide named Jesus. He is my Christ; he is my forgiver and everything. After all he did for me; I think I owe it to him to become the best man I can be. What about you?
The following is a video by former Yes Keyboard Player, Rick Wakeman. Watch it, listen to the music and contemplate, am I willing to mature and grow.
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