To write about human and spiritual development, one needs to understand something that is common to all human beings can be challenging to grasp. The purpose of the paper is to ponder what it means to be human and spiritual. Does the human spirit extend to us the capacity to persist in our pursuit of the truth?One of our human endeavors is to cultivate our beliefs and have the wherewithal to act upon them. We are born to be a significant part of creation.
The intangible space that is between our heart and mind brings to the surface through the emerging palette of creativity. Our thoughts are distinct through acting as if we were painting with the paintbrush of our souls. Our life is like a blank canvas where our spirit creates a masterpiece.
Every person struggles with limitation in their way. Without having limitation, there would be no individualism. Our humanity would be a canvas of solid color. No differentiating hues are defining who we are as individuals. Perceived limitations of human experience can offer a kaleidoscope view. We can find the formulation of our being at the summit of our potential.Psalm 8:3-6, “When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, 4 what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? 5 You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet.
” (HCSB) Picture David looking up at the sky, and realizing that he is just a speck on earth. His thought goes to what does it mean to be human? We are the imago Dei, the bearers of the image of God. The divinitive mark our Creator is imago Dei.
The biblical teaching on humanity includes more than the imago Dei, humanity, as God’s image-bearers, remains central to the Christian understanding of anthropology. Estep, James R., Kim, Jonathan H., “Christian Formation; integrating Theology & Human Development,” (B Publishing Group, Nashville, 2010,) Page 11. We cannot base our understanding of humanity only on social sciences, we need to remember it is also based on theology. “In the beginning,” Genesis 1, introduces the uniqueness of humanity. Verse 26-28 of Genesis emphasizes that, God said, we are to be made in His image. Here scripture affirms that we are bearers of God’s image.
In the substantive view of imago Dei, it is defined by the elements of psychological, ethical, spiritual, or physical characteristics of humans. Hence, humanity is made distinct by these characteristics from all of God’s creation. But, the one characteristic that influences our identity the most is spirituality. In the substantive view the defining factor of imago Dei is seen in humanity as being reflective of God’s image in that we are a representation of Him in a temporal form, physical, and otherwise. Ibid, 17.
How do we differ from the image of God? The difference is sin. God created Adam and Eve in His image, but that pure image of God was removed in Genesis 2. The masterpiece of humanity was idyllically portrayed in sinless perfection in the image of God. Painted in this masterpiece is God’s image, as our created state. Adam and Eve were first created with absence of sin. The imago Dei is fully reflecting God who created us.
Ibid, 21. Even though there is sin within humanity, God has redeemed us by His grace. Romans 3:22-24, NIV, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
” How does redemption relate to our human spiritual development? Erikson’s model brings us through the stages by age. In this he is showing that as we develop a sense of trust, failure, identity, relationship, and love are primary throughout our lives. Erikson, Erik, “Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages,” http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.
htm;accessed These are seen in the bible under redemption. Abraham, Moses, Job, Peter, and Paul questioned their faith, or should I say God. Matthew 19:13-14, Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” brings to mind Piaget’s model and the question, is a child born with the seed of faith? She states in her model, “They learn: that they exist separately for the objects and people around them; that they can cause things to happen; that things continue to exist even when they can’t see them.” Piaget, Jean, “Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development Stages,” http://www.usefulcharts.com/psychology/piaget-stages-of-cognitive-development.
html Jesus is saying that the children have faith/trust in Him. One could interrupt this verse as saying a child is born with seed of faith. There is an innocent trust in a child that can be nurtured as they mature. Their innocent trust is spiritual maturation at that stage of development.Maturation is defined as: the process of becoming mature; the emergence of personal and behavioral characteristics through growth processes.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/maturation Our spiritual life is a journey of maturation, that is influenced by the developmental stage we are at in life.
In our Christian journey our theology helps to form who we are as a human being and who we are in Christ. To understand this, we need to view human and spiritual maturation as being connected. Without a mature growth in spiritual we cannot fully become spiritually mature. The process of maturation starts at birth I believe and is developed throughout our lives. Paul stands out to me as a fully maturated Christian. He places his life in God’s hands, his trust is unbreakable.
The following Scriptures show that spiritual life and ministry are informed by theology: 1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking, be adults.”; Colossians 2:6-7, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”; Hebrews 5:12-14, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”; 6:1-2, “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search In conclusion, the dispositions needed in nurturing our human maturation are obedience, faith, trust, love, and forgiveness. All of which are a part of the journey of a Christian life.
In obedience to God we have faith and trust; in love and forgiveness for ourselves and others we develop maturity in our faith. Fowler’s stage of faith model shows us that during faith development we do not all mature the same. He groups traits in our psychological development that we can transposed to the essence of faith. We develop spiritual maturity over time, through the nurturing of ourselves, others and God.
Spiritual formation happens when we believe that faith formation is for a lifetime. Spiritual maturity is when we believe that in every circumstance of life God is there!