By Eli Bayless
My two-year-old son has a lot of growing up to do. Let’s just say he hasn’t exactly got things figured out yet. He is still under the impression that if he would like something from his mom or me that the best way to get it is to let out a good scream. He believes that when the rear hatch of his favorite semi-truck toy is stuck that the most efficient way to free it is to hurl it against the nearest piece of furniture we have. As you can imagine, especially if you have kids of your own, this can be an incredible test of patience and Christ-likeness. It has, however, proven to be a healthy reminder of the reality of my depravity, God, help us all.
It’s not difficult to look at my toddler and point out his need for growth on a hundred different levels, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that having a child has pointed out to me on so many occasions my own need for growth. I am almost 30 years old (Let’s keep that between us). You would think that would mean that I would always be the one doing the teaching, but alas I am daily met with the “growing up” I still have left to do. I share all this with you to point out a humbling and liberating truth; we all have growing up to do.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” -Ephesians 4:11-16.
If we are a member of the body of Christ we carry an obligation for spiritual growth to see the body function as intended. If that wasn’t obvious enough to you, then this passage clarifies it all the more by setting the bar for our spiritual growth at, “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. With this in mind, we know that we are created to keep going but also that, on this side of eternity, none of us will fully “arrive.”
If “growing in Christ” feels like swimming upstream to you, then take heart. My son does not have a lot to offer the family yet in the way of productivity. He is more often faithful to make messes, break things, or to accidentally tear the pages from books than he is to share the Gospel with our neighbors. However, none of that makes him less a part of our family. We have given him our name and, despite any failures, we are committed to training him and encouraging Him in the years of growth he has ahead.
Believer, your struggles in spiritual growth will never disassociate you from the family of God. God has paid for your weakness and sin with the blood of his Son and has given you His name.
Never doubt your place in God’s eyes as you are growing in Christ. Be faithful to position yourself in areas where you can be shaped and molded by the Holy Spirit of God and see his faithfulness teach you and love you every step of the way.