Think of who it is in your church world, in your community of Christians, that you look up to and say, “That person’s mature.” What about them makes you say that they’re mature? . . . in some cases . . . you may be looking . . . at an older person . . . and say, there’s a person who has been successful in their career, their ministry; they’ve been productive; they’re happy; life is going well; their marriage is good; their kids are doing fine, and I say, “Now that’s the model. That’s the well-managed life. That’s the better life.” Is it possible that when I look at certain people and say, “that’s maturity,” that I am wrongly defining it? Is it possible that that person I’m calling mature is, in fact, a stable fool?
. . . we need to realize that Satan’s masterpiece is not the crack addict . . . not the prostitute. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is satisfied with this world. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is untroubled by all that is in his or her interior world that’s opposed to God. He’s content with all the resources that he has to make his life work, and he’s enjoying respect and recognition and affection, and he’s never broken before God to the point where he lives for no one but God. That’s Satan’s masterpiece.
The Spirit’s masterpiece is someone who doesn’t look very mature sometimes. The Spirit’s masterpiece can be someone who is deeply troubled, someone who struggles a lot, someone who is aware of his or her own interior world and doesn’t like what is there, someone who is troubled by the world in which they live, someone who therefore cries out to God, “Reveal yourself to me. You’re all I want. There’s nothing in my perception that can satisfy me except You. I know it’s You.” That’s not foolishness. That’s wisdom, and the person who’s crying out to God for satisfaction may look very unstable, may not have a good job, may not have very much money. They may not be chipper and and happy all the time, but if that person is in fact the Spirit’s masterpiece . . . there’s still going to be a pattern of kindness, a pattern of movement toward other people, and a pattern of abiding trust in God through struggles along the way.
. . . we’ve just got to get away from the idea that if you’re spiritual you’re successful. We’ve got to reach into the realization that the more spiritual you are, the more broken and troubled you become as you pursue the reality of God. Yes there’s joy. Yes there’s stability of the soul. There’s solidness. But along the way, there’s a price to pay. A man whose internal battle is fierce may cling to the truth of his new identity in Christ enough to keep him going; that’s the Spirit’s masterpiece. Without discernment we may look at somebody and say, “That person is immature,” and we may be judgmental toward them and annoyed by them, and tell them to shape up, and be a little happier. “Why can’t you be a little nicer more of the time?” . . . and we may not be aware of the Spirit’s work in their souls. Discernment requires a recognition of foolishness and how it can disguise itself very attractively, especially in the church.
Larry Crabb, SoulCare 201 – Lesson 7