Unity and Maturity

In Ephesians 4:13, the Apostle Paul says that Christ himself gave gifts to the church so that the Christian community would reach unity and become mature.

Unity and maturity are wonderful things.
Unity and maturity are deeply missing in many circles.

Without unity and maturity, Christians are pushed around, driven by our emotions and popular fashion down a gentle slope into a raging sea. We know in our guts that things like unity and maturity need to emerge in the Christian life, need to be present in the Christian community. We long for things like unity and maturity.

On campus, we see unity and maturity pursued at the expense of each other all too often.

Some students push for unity: willing to sacrifice truth-claims, holiness and distinctives for the sake of being together. Others push for maturity: setting aside community, friendship and even love. But these two - unity and maturity - were meant to go together.

Unity without maturity leads to a herd mentality. It forces you to the lowest common denominator. Not the essentials, not the center or the core. Just the comfortable and agreeable bits. A Christian community that is unified but immature is one no one wants to join. And the Christ of this community is not worth dying or living for.

Maturity without unity is no better. Maturity pursued apart for relationship becomes brittle and sharp, angry and restless, immature. It becomes a shadow of itself. Knowledge is held high and prized, though it is not the same as maturity. Accomplishment and talent also get this treatment. The label of "mature" gets slapped on the powerful, the first-comers and the theoretical. Maturity becomes hollow like that tree that's had the core rot out of it and is just waiting for lighting to strike and reveal the emptiness.

True unity extends across ethnic and chronological boundaries. This unity drags you toward maturity. Bolted to the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the unified become mature.

And true maturity? True maturity has love as its center. And love loves objects and people and places and real food and real drink. The love of the mature person pushes aside isolation and draws maturity from the deep, model wells of the community. And, becoming mature, the mature serve as wells for those who thirst alongside them and after them. And so the mature experience unity.

Unity and maturity go hand in hand. You'll never find one without the other.

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