1st March 2013

Please Grow Up

“No prolonged infancies among us, please.”
Ephesians 4:14 (MSG)

Are we like children who never grow up?

There was a news report about some three year olds who had not begun to walk. Poor parenting was blamed for this. Apparently the children’s ability to walk was under-developed because they had spent so much time left in front of the television while strapped in their buggies, or strollers as they are called in the US. Presumably the idea was to entertain and distract. Maybe the parent had to work at home to make ends meet, or was at the end of his or her tether, and therefore chose to control the child in that way. We don’t know and shouldn’t judge, I guess. But we do see the result: children, who should be able to walk, don’t walk.

On a spiritual level sometimes we strap ourselves into our own little buggy. We don’t venture out of our comfort zone. That comfort zone could be anything. It could be our normal routine, our circle of friends that we find it easy to be with, whatever makes us purr with contentment like a cat curling up on the sofa. Probably the three year olds are happy to be glued to the TV screen. They don’t know they are not growing up.

Some Christians in Ephesus, for whatever reasons, did not want to grow up in Christ. Maybe, like the should-be toddlers above, they were used to just watching the world go by without much participation on their part. We too can feel that faith is about our being fed, watered, and entertained. Not that feeling comfortable is wrong, but, if our aim is the continuity of our self-comfort, we have a problem.

Of course, we need to be comforted when we are ill or in distress. Part of our Christianity is to receive graciously the goodwill of others in such situations. Paul’s concern, however, was that too many believers had become so pre-occupied with themselves and with their own comfort and needs that they had become like “babes”, infants who do not venture out to walk the walk.

So what should we do? Walk. Exercise spiritually. Get off our favourite chair and get out the door. Help others in awkward or difficult situations. Feed the poor. Get involved with those who are less advantaged than we are. Be active in church; don’t just sit there – participate! Following Jesus is about doing the things Jesus did. Where in the Gospels do we find Jesus seeking his own comfort above that of others?

Let’s get out of the buggy and grow up.

Father in Heaven, teach me to grow up, to mature into the image of Jesus, who lived, not for himself, but for others. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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