What Does it Mean to Live in a Mature Relationship with God?

by Fr Richard Heilman | September 1, 2019 8:16 pm

There’s many things I want for you and me. Ultimately, I’d like us all to reach heaven; to enjoy eternal bliss. But, in the here and now …

I want all of us to live in peace:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:4-7

I want all of us to live in joy:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:8-9[1]

I want all of us to live in love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5[2]

Living in this beautiful peace and joy and love comes from a “spiritual maturity.” Each one of us, no matter our age, is called to live in a “mature” relationship with God.

Let’s do a check-up. Let’s measure our spiritual maturity by looking at some of our spiritual vital signs.

Who is God for you?

Spiritual Immaturity: Is God the proverbial abusive parent? Or a nasty boss? Always looking for reasons to shame you and punish you? Do you simply follow the minimal expectations – punch the clock – for fear that you will be disciplined or beaten? Maybe you fear bad luck, bad karma, bad mojo. Maybe you avoid God and His offer of reconciliation because you see Confession as a part of the whole abusive parent image … “If God really loves me, He is cool with my sins. I shouldn’t need to prove my love.”

Spiritual Maturity: For the mature Catholic, Confession is an intimate conversation with the Lord who never gets tired of forgiving. It is a joyful embrace; a coming home again, like the Prodigal Son. The mature Catholic recognizes God as a “perfect Dad” (Abba); a Dad Who, in perfect love, encourages – roots on – His children to strive to be the best version of themselves as they can possibly be. He reinforces positive behavior and, yes, at times, challenges negative behavior, or allows misfortune when we choose to be separated from Him. Why? Because God knows that real peace – a sense of deep harmony – comes when we are home with Him and live as we should be.

What about God’s will for you?

Spiritual Immaturity: The immature Catholic sees following the moral teachings of Christ and the Church as a burden; it’s like following a list of random and inconvenient rules. The spiritually immature believes many of the rules are unrealistic; not within our reach. Even some at the highest level of our Church have said, “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect,” as though doing it God’s way is unreasonable, so why bother?

Spiritual Maturity: Mature Catholics are motivated by pure love. Jesus, said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). For those mature Catholics, doing God’s will is utter joy. Why? Because they live to please the One they love. So, His yoke is easy because they get to a place where they say, “Of course I should do it God’s way.” And, yes, sometimes following God’s will can be challenging, but so can many other things in life that are worthwhile. For the spiritually mature, following Christ is a meaningful, joyful mission.

What about who we are, as God’s children?

Spiritual Immaturity: The immature Catholic takes pleasure in criticizing those they feel are less faithful and pointing out their faults. They usually do this in public – public shaming – in order to shine a spotlight on themselves as superior and possessing a greater knowledge. For example, this kind of totally uncharitable neo-gnosticism is plaguing the traditional movement, as Fr. Ripperger warns HERE[3]. There is a great need to restore traditionalism in the Church, but the devil always seems to find a way to disrupt what he hates.

Spiritual Maturity: The mature Catholic is “merciful” and sees every person as a brother or sister, and treats them with unconditional respect, always giving them the benefit of the doubt, whether present or absent. My dad and I would always debate what is the greatest attribute. I would say “love,” but he insisted it was “respect.” I came to understand that love is “fake” if there is no evidence of unconditional respect. In other words, the spiritually mature person always acts out of love, which is authenticated when we show respect. Recall Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5[2]

If this check-up has shown that there’s room for improvement in our spiritual maturity, let’s ask God to help it happen by opening our minds and hearts to see him as he really is: Our Loving Father; Our Perfect Dad (Abba).

Endnotes:
  1. 1 Peter 1:8-9: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Peter+1%3A8-9&version=NIV
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A4-5&version=NIV
  3. HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5FgSDKD-9Q&t=39s

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