In the Book of Hebrews the call is given to “press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word” (Heb. 6:1 CEB). The reason why this word of wisdom is given to the readers of this sermon/letter is that the author recognized how easy it is to get stuck on the basics and never move on to spiritual maturity. A similar word of wisdom is present in Falling Upward, an exquisitely written book from the pen of Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest with Emergent Church connections. Rohr offers a gentle but firm reminder that although it’s appropriate to start the spiritual journey by focusing on security and identity, but there comes a time when we must move beyond the protective fences and engage the world in which we live through the Spirit of God.
Rohr uses the image of life’s two halves. In the first half of life, which needn’t be defined purely in terms of age, we focus on the foundations and create a container for life’s questions. From there, after we’ve taken care of these basic elements of the faith journey, then we are ready to fill the container with content. Often, in the first half of life, we live with either/or categories. But, staying put in this first stage of life means that our containers remain largely empty and ill-defined. We live in a sort of perpetual adolescence. It’s fine to be an adolescent for a while, but not forever, but unfortunately the church often does little to challenge this adolescence. As Rohr notes, many of the sermons he has heard over his long life never move beyond this first level. Indeed, if a preacher does challenge these sacred foundations, that person will likely be considered “heretical, dangerous, or ill advised” (p. 7).
If, however, we’re going to experience spiritual maturity, or what Rohr calls the second half of life (something that many people never achieve), then we must be ready to leave the comfort of the black and white and risk living with a both/and dynamic. To move into the second half of life we must be comfortable with change and willing be stretched beyond our comfort zones. Indeed, we need to be aware of the trap of worshiping the status quo. Thus, like Abraham and Sarah, we must be willing and ready to leave home and head out for an undiscovered country.