This is a busy season of transitions for my family. It’s a bit surreal, actually. I can’t believe we have arrived at this time in life. Last month my middle son turned 16. Crazy. We now have two teen drivers in our family. It was difficult to look back at pictures on my phone of his 15th birthday and think about how quicky time has flown by and how much he has changed. Two weeks after that my oldest son turned 18! What? 18?!? It’s hard to believe. It doesn’t seem possible and yet it’s true. Soon, we’ll be watching him walk across the stage in a cap and gown to receive his high school diploma. Unreal. Next to that, one month from now, my baby girl turns 14. In a couple weeks she will leave middle school forever and my youngest will be in high school. Make it stop!
Though I am enjoying these years with my kids there are so many times when I would almost do anything to wind the clock back in time and go back to when they were younger, more playful, with less responsibility and much more childlike. And though I know that the point of parenting is to raise children to adulthood and release them, I can’t help but want to keep them young (and, consequently, that means I stay younger, too).
I think that is the nature of our hearts. We must grow older and yet our hearts wish to stay less mature. I believe that’s what Paul was speaking to when he wrote what he did to the church in Ephesus.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. -Eph. 4:7, 11-16
Jesus ascended to the throne and took his place next to God. With that, he bestowed gifts onto each one of us. These gifts are meant to build up, strengthen, and serve the Church. These gifts are meant to be used and honed and in so doing we each will grow to know Christ more deeply and become more like him. We will also advance the mission of his Church. We EACH have a role to play. No matter how old you are or where you are on your faith journey, we EACH have some growing up to still do.
Our hearts, I think, resist this spiritual maturing for several reasons. One, we think we’ve arrived at a satisfactory place. Two, we think our time is past and it’s someone else’s turn to step up. Or, three, we either believe we’re too busy or we’re unqualified to do the work. Those are all symptoms of infancy and immaturity. We can be spiritually stuck as a toddler or adolescent and not even realize it. We’re just as shellfish as we were ten years ago. We still think the job of the church is largely to satisfy my preferences. We think the job of ministry is for the pastors and ministers. Do we still think our time and our money are ours? Are we more loving, more generous, or more forgiving? Do we serve, disciple, mentor? How has our prayer life developed and deepened? Do we bear the heart of daily repentance?
White Oak, as we reach more people connecting them to full life in Jesus, we will always have in our Body those of varying maturity levels. But none of us can stay where we are. The beauty of God’s Church is that we each have gifts we should be maturing in. We each have a role to move the body forward in strength and in the knowledge of Christ. So, where are you in this season? What is God growing in you? Where is he taking you next?
We have much work ahead of us and we have the Spirit in us to accomplish it. Let’s go.
Praying for maturity,
White Oak Christian Church