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Two Signs of Spiritual Maturity

Two of the signs of increasing spiritual maturity are inclusivity and nonbinary thinking.

The more we come to know the heart of God, the more loving we discover God to be. There is a wideness to God’s mercy. All of creation is divine art. Every human is an image of the divine. No person is irredeemable. We have freewill and can fend off the blessings to our own detriment, but we cannot shut them off. God’s blessings, like the sun and rain, are lavished indiscriminately. Just as the sun shines on the just and unjust and rain waters the crops of good and bad people alike, so God’s grace is universal. God loves everyone. God sent Jesus because God loves the entire world. Applied, the gospel disintegrates all the divisions between rich and poor, female and male, Jew and gentile, black and white, Muslim and Christian, citizen and immigrant.

That’s what makes nationalism, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia so antichrist, so dangerous. Such things throw up walls, erect fences, pit brother against brother, and result in genocidal wars and fascist oppression. Leveraged by lying propaganda and invented paranoid conspiracies, dangerous demagogues rise to power. When it’s endorsed by religion, the lethal stew invariably gains widespread acceptance. Sacred texts are twisted, false prophets emerge with their visions, and the language of the dominant religion is used to support, justify, and enhance lethal ideology. Empowered by the twin beasts of political jingoism and civil religion, evil spreads its net. The result is a Christianity that doesn’t resemble Christ.

Jesus, by his words, actions, and passion destroys nationalism, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia, breaks down all the walls, crumbles the barriers, and radically, scandalously, warmly embraces the rejected, despised, broken, weary people on the margins. As we increasingly press into the divine heart, we discover our own biases and prejudices. We learn to love the “others.” We eventually learn to love our enemies. We, like God, contain multitudes.

Similarly, as we mature in grace, black/white, either/or, binary thinking fades away like a babyhood game of pattycake. The fundamentalist, like the Pharisee, like the child, sees the world in simplistic terms. It’s either right or wrong. People are good or their bad. There are no gray areas. Binary thinking makes us feel secure. We know where we stand. We live securely within our little worlds, surrounded by people who look, act, and think like us. Once more, unvaryingly, a would-be dictator harangues the vulnerable, playing on their fears, utilizing their particular religious verbiage, and promoting himself by reinforcing pharisaical thinking.

Spiritually mature people are comfortable with not having all the answers. They can sit with mystery and hold seeming contradictions in loving tension. They are humble enough to know they aren’t always right. They listen more than they speak. They approach each person and each situation with a teachable heart. A teachable heart is not a naïve heart. Spiritually mature people don’t just believe whatever the hear. They weigh it, test it, sit with it, draw what truth there may be from it, and leave the rest. The spiritually mature person judges no one, loves everyone, and lives in that marvelous state of fully knowing nothing.

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