I often hear Christians and non-Christians painting a picture of Christianity in a very primitive state based on their understanding. What I mean is that they are still looking at scriptures and saying what they see instead of what they understand. The problem: When you take what you see in scripture and never look beyond it, all you get is a form of godliness. When you study and gain an understanding you get the form and function.
So for instance John 13:23-24, “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. This is a very “easy” verse to understand, but what you walk away with will depend on your level of maturity. Some people see the fact that there is a “commandment” in the first verse. This same person that sees the commandment will tell you that Christ commands us to do things. They will then begin to process their relationship with God based on a slave/master relationship.
Maturity doesn’t even see the word commandment. Maturity emphasizes the function of this verse and only sees the love. The mature person does not feel “forced” to love. They don’t think that there is a negative consequence waiting on them if they don’t love. The mature person, based on their understanding, has a heart so soft toward God that the willingness to “do” comes from an inner desire to please God and not a fearful expectation of being punished by God.
Spiritual maturity compels us to forgive, not because someone asked us to, but because God has forgiven us. We love, not because the object of our love makes it easy, it’s because God first loved us. We help one another, comfort one another and pray for one another, not because of a command, but because of what we understand.
Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
There is a serious need for Christians to move on to maturity and stop debating the gospel and start sharing it; to stop scaring people to be obedient and start encouraging people to be.