I was watching a Twitch stream of a friend playing wormate.io last night when the streamer asked us viewers, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
There were all kinds of answers that flooded the chat immediately, but the two fastest answers were “a good father” and “a good friend”. If this had been a high noon, western shootout between two lone gunmen, I would have been dead because that first answer of ” a good father” rang true and resonated with me.
That first answer of “a good father” IS extremely important to me as well, but it seemed a bit too isolated after a second glance because I also want to be a good “husband”, “neighbor”, etc. However, all of those types of answers have a “positional” limitation to them. Being “a good father” means that I might be great with my children, but says nothing of how I might treat my wife, my neighbors, my colleagues and even my enemies.
My answer of “a good friend” felt like it was less preferential/ exclusive, but it still doesn’t cover being good in my essential being — not just doing no harm to others, but (as much as possible) doing good even to those who might try to do harm to me. That to me sounds like someone who is mature and “grown up”.
I want to be patient and kind; to not envy or boast; to not be arrogant or rude. I don’t want to insist on my own way; I don’t want to be irritable or resentful; I don’t want to celebrate wrongdoing or be unmerciful to people who have done wrong; but I want celebrate what is good, and fair, and just, and is the truth. I want my life to be loud in good, generous, even sacrificial actions towards everyone around me and quieter about myself.
As I recently watched someone ranting about how “Christians” can be like disrespectful, pushy recruiters when they bring up their religion to other people in competely non-religious settings — that also resonated significantly with me (because I’ve seen the ugly side of overzealous yet cold and unloving evangelism that Jesus speaks out against in His seering words in Matthew 23). Hypocrisy is ugly (and clearly “not good”) no matter your culture, background, religion, or beliefs. I would hope that none of us hope to grow up to be a hypocrite. However, life experience tells us that either some people do, or some people “never grow up”. I feel the second option there is the more likely culprit.
So maybe the topic (the underlying precept and principle here) is immaturity. And “immaturity” reveals its ugly head in many different ways, to all of us, everyday – right?
Someone doesn’t put their cart away at the grocery store? Immaturity.
Someone acts like a Karen when they don’t get their way? Immaturity.
Someone tries to convince you to believe what they say they believe — but you can tell even at a first glance that their life’s actions, or how they spend their money, or how they spend their time, or how they treat strangers and people unlike themselves is not good?
Here’s a twist. You might expect me to lump this one in there with an excuse of “immaturity”, but I’m not. Because that would be a cop out. It’s one thing if you’re out there just representing your own name and reputation and character by advertising your own immaturity with foolish behavior.
But what about people who say they are “representatives of their god”?
What about people who insist “their god” is “the only god” and “everyone else is wrong and going to hell”?
There is something clearly wrong in rude and hateful people trying to “sign people up” for their exclusive little clubs using fear, emotional manipulation, and oppression — and the wide history of religious atrocities by one group against another shows us this clear and present danger.
But what if amongst all the lies and the hypocrisy, there is a truth?
A truth that is unique amongst a sea of lies and imposters?
Or maybe a single underlying and unique true precept that people have gotten twisted up into a mix of opposing feelings and opinions based on their own immature understanding, culture, traditions, feelings, and personalities.
So we might best look at the precepts, right? We might look at what people actually believe and how they live, rather than how well they have memorized or can quote their group’s documentation?
I can open up my checkbook register and add up the different ways I’ve spent my money in the last 6 months. That would give us all insight into what I truly believe and what is truly the most important to me.
I can log my time on a calendar by category and add it up. That would give us all insight into what I truly believe and what is truly the most important to me.
You could poll every neighbor and online follower and coworker to score me in categories like patience, kindness, humility, envy, ego, arrogance, rudeness, irritability, integrity, generosity, fairness and justice — and that would give us all insight into what I truly believe and what is truly the most important to me.
I don’t expect that any of us who went through the above 3 exercises — accounting for our money, our time, and our relationships — would score a perfectly mature 100% in every category. And I get the feeling that some folks’ religious dogma and traditions and practices are actually a detriment to us aligning the reality of our lives with the precepts we want to believe. This is evidence of hypocrisy, of immaturity, at its core.
When I grow up, I want to be mature.
I want to have obtained the full measure of the most valuable precepts. And these most valuable precepts are all meant to produce the greatest value for those around me — not just stack up money, properties, experiences, and enjoyment for myself.
I look at how Jesus didn’t just stand around quoting scripture and law but He revealed valuable precept after precept in parables and stories where they had to be sought and found — even though the precepts themselves are clear enough that a young child could understand if they truly listened.
I look at how Jesus went out to the people and revealed valuable precept after precept in how He lived and served and sacrificed on behalf of others in need.
And I know personally how He has touched my life and shown me the value of choosing to truly believe and live out these precepts myself.
I’m still growing up. I hope you are too, my friends!