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From the Spring 2005 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

In Pursuit of Maturity

by J. Oswald Sanders
Reprinted by permission from his book In Pursuit of Maturity


wo pastors happened to be walking in opposite directions on the main street of their city. One was striding along at a great pace, and as he passed by, the other pastor inquired, “Where are you hurrying to?”
  “I’m hurrying on to perfection,” was the rejoinder.
  “Well, if that’s the case,” said the other, “I had better not hinder you, for you have such a long, long journey ahead of you.”
  Most of us would concede the appropriateness of the jest to our own case, for are we not very conscious that we have a long road ahead of us as we strive to attain mature Christian character? The example of the perfect life of Christ seems so far removed from the level of our attainment that at times we grow discouraged. Nevertheless the exhortation of Hebrews 6:1 is addressed to all believers, and it carries within a note of optimism.
  In his commentary of Hebrews 6:1, Bishop Westcott points out that there are three possible translations, each of which warns against a possible danger:
  “Let us go on to maturity” suggests the possibility that (1) we may stop too soon, feeling that we have arrived. Paul contradicted this complacency when he wrote, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect . . . I press toward the mark . . .” (Phil. 3:12, 14 KJV). (2) “Let us press on” suggests that we may succumb to the peril of discouragement and drop our bundle. No, we are to heed the warning and “continue progressing toward maturity,” as the tense of the verb indicates. (3) “Let us be borne on,” warns against the peril of thinking that we are left to do it alone. In the pursuit of maturity we have the fullest cooperation of the triune God. It takes all three of these possible translations to convey the wealth and significance of these few words.1
  In a very honest and self-revealing manner, Lane Adams describes his pursuit of maturity:

  In this struggle after maturity I often sought the counsel of others by reading books and by veiled roundabout questioning of men I admired. Never admitting to the real specifics, I yet longed to know more about what brought maturity in the Christian life, because it was becoming obvious to me I didn’t have it. (How hard it was for me to face and admit this to myself!)
  There was a general agreement on what brought maturity. Serious in-depth daily study of the Bible; a living relationship to God in prayer; regular sharing of your faith in Christ through witness; involvement in the local church and other service to mankind as opportunities presented themselves. All of this I had been doing for several years. Why were the results not greater?
  I received no help at all from others. Answers ranged anywhere from a conception of conversion that presupposed maturity arriving overnight, to an honest “I don’t know.”2

  This poignant experience of a sincere seeker after maturity is not uncommon, and yet it need not be so. In the manifesto of His kingdom, our Lord gave this ringing assurance: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6). An increasing spiritual maturity is an attainable goal, not a constantly receding mirage.
  In Paul’s exposition of the purpose he had in view in proclaiming Christ, he made it clear that his objective was more than evangelism: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect [mature] in Christ” (Col. 1:28, italics mine). And he pursued his objective with intensity, for he added, “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:29).

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