The wisdom of God can’t be received by everyone. It is beyond the grasp of some people. Paul wrote the “rulers of this age” could not figure it out. They did not understand.
For the mature Christian, however, the wisdom of God is pretty simple. It is Jesus Christ and him crucified. The Son of God lived a sinless life and died on a cross, paying the penalty for our sins, so that those who put their faith in him can stand in eternal righteousness before God. This is “Jesus Chris and him crucified.”
That is what the apostle Paul proclaimed, and that is what God had decreed before time began. The crucifixion of the Son of God would pave the way for salvation by faith alone, not by works.
We can explain this to some people. We can give them convincing arguments. We can show them the rationality of these thoughts. But, Paul wrote, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.”
We sometimes wonder why some people won’t accept the message of the gospel. We sometimes grieve over the fact special people in our lives consistently say “no” to Jesus Christ. We know it is not a lack of intellect that causes this rejection, and we know it is not lack of compassionate persuasion. Some just do not understand.
So what is the difference between one who hears and understand and one who hears and does not understand? Paul said it is “among the mature” that the wisdom of God is imparted. Well, who are the mature? What makes a man or a woman mature?
We may think of some of the aged Christians we have known in life. Surely, they are mature. They have seen the ebb and flow of this fallen world, and they’ve learned what to expect and not to expect. And they have witnessed countless times the things of God and can tell us in hushed tones how he has worked in their lives.
Paul would tell us, I suppose, that this is maturity at its finest. But maturity does not stop there. In another letter, Paul described the thought process of the mature person:
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies head, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way …” (Philippians 3:13-15a).
Those who are mature do not consider they have reached the summit. They know there is more to learn and more to do. Those who are mature do not get stuck in the rut. They instead press forward to what God has for them in the future. They have hope, and they have their eyes and ears fixed on Jesus Christ.
Maturity, to Paul, is not to be pictured as an achievement. We don’t reach a plateau of maturity. Instead, maturity is in the hiking – whether we’re at the foot of mountain, just starting out, or somewhere higher up.
So the immature, perhaps, are those think they’ve reached perfection, who think there’s no place further to grow, and who don’t press on to know and follow Jesus Christ.
And so a newly baptized Christian can be mature. He or she is the one who receives the Spirit of God with open arms. And an elderly, educated atheist can be immature. That one does not accept the things of the Spirit of God. It’s not a matter of working harder. It’s simply a matter of being open to the working of the Holy Spirit. (The Spirit always is at work.)
And so we think about ourselves. We’re mature, are we not? We’ve heard and have received the wisdom of God and the message of “Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
And yet, some of us are hard-headed. Some of us do linger in our ruts. We do not forget what lies behind us. We wallow in it. And we sometimes neglect to get up and strain forward in our faith. We can slide toward immaturity.
So we ought to be mindful of ourselves. And we ought to consider our love for God. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Ah, another clue for the mature. This wisdom of God – not discernible to the rulers of this age – is for those who “love him.” What do we love?