07 February 2009

A Mature Faith?

I found the following article by Giles Fraser in this week's Church Times to be very interesting: Growing Up is a Moral Business

Fraser writes:
The true grown-up is the person who is able to face genuine otherness with gratitude and thanksgiving. The grown-up does not need to analyse every situation with a sharp eye for how it benefits him or her.
Winnicott put it thus: “A sign of health in the mind is the ability of one individual to enter imaginatively and accurately into the thoughts and feelings and hopes and fears of another.”

Fraser goes on to write that churches (usually? often?) take the approach with young children of teaching them the simple message 'Jesus Loves You'. But as children get older, there is also 'a call to wake up to the needs of others'.

Sometimes Christians quibble about whether 'the Gospel message' is about 'God loves you' or whether it is about service to others. Along with many other expressions of the Christian faith, Methodism has always asserted that 'the Gospel message' is about both of these things: knowing oneself to be loved by God and serving others because of having been empowered by God's love.

I've seen at close hand that damage that people do to their own lives by living life as if the primary human questions were 'What can other people do for me?' 'How can I make sure I get (more than) my share of stuff in life?' 'How can I make sure the other guy doesn't take what's mine?'

If the Christian faith is more than simply serving others, then it is also more than simply saying 'God loves me.'


Unknown said...

I am taking an online class now (for continuing ed units) and there are a few folks (RC deacon candidates) who appear to profess what I would see as an immature faith. I seem to recall learning that it has been posited that, as there are stages of childhood into maturity, there are stages of faith maturity as well. A mature faith accepts the questions, I think, knows that there are the grey areas that cannot be quickly answered with "God says." I find it frightening that so many are stuck in the childhood stage of faith and seem unwilling to push further. Growing in faith is the best blessing.

Doorman-Priest said...

To me Giles Fraser is one of the most thought provoking commentators around today.

Love him!

PamBG said...

DP, I quite like him. Sometimes he comes across to me as what I call a 'liberal fundamentalist'. But very definitely 'thought-provoking'!