“Growing Up Is Hard To Do”
Paul begins chapter 4 of the letter to the church in Epheus reminding us we are to be one,
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
For those who have accepted this, for those who have come to know the teaching of Jesus Christ, sent by God, we receive gifts of the Spirit. Paul tells us,
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”
Notice the gifts Paul mentions are gifts of leadership, skills needed to educate people about Christ. To bring people into mature relationships with Jesus Christ. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These are all leadership positions, positions of influence, helping others to learn and grow as well. Positions which take people from not knowing, to a knowing. Helping them mature in their understanding.
I’m a big fan of the old comic Calvin & Hobbes. I love the “advice” the father would give to Calvin when Calvin would come with questions about life and the universe. Check out these ones.
Now I have to admit, maybe some of my parenting technique came by inspiration from Calvin’s dad. I know you may find it hard to believe, but I too, do like to have fun once in a while.
Growing up is hard to do. We have these great big questions about the world around us, and we don’t always have the most reliable source for finding the answers. I imagine Calvin’s dad might have been answering differently if he knew Calvin could just go look it up on Google when he left the room!
Of course, these are just harmless jokes. But there is a sense of reality to it. As we grow up, we have many questions, and sometimes we don’t always get the right answer before we have to make a big decision. Or maybe we ask the wrong person, who may have other priorities in life, and we may get steered down a wrong path.
Paul tells us,
“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
It’s time to grow up. We can’t listen to what others have in mind for us, but we need to come to Jesus Christ and seek out God’s love and direction. Only God can steer us towards the right path, and bring us together as the body of Christ in the world, built on love.
Paul goes on to tell us we need to know we have been taught a new way. The old ways we used to live, the lives full of sin, those lives must be put behind us. Instead, we are to let Christ renew us. To bring us into a new life, a life where we are blessed by the Holy Spirit so we can do all the things we’ve been told we need to do. To build up the body of Christ in the world. To grow in our faith and to help other grow as well.
We can’t do this if we live in our sinful ways. We need Christ to renew us, for only he can do it. Only God can wipe away our past and bring us into a new life. We can’t do it alone.
Paul is telling us, in short, to grow up. To give up the things we used to hold on to. The things that kept us spiritually immature. To grow up and accept what Christ offers.
Paul closes this chapter saying, “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
Even in our immature selves, Christ has come to teach us how to love each other. To put aside our differences and welcome each other as Jesus Christ has welcomed us, by forgiving our sins.
Jesus Christ has forgiven. Jesus Christ has laid down his life for us so that we may know God’s love for the world and for us. And how He wants us to show that same, unconditional, forgiving love to each other.
This is a gift. A gift which will help us to grow up. To learn from our mistakes, to mature in our faith, and to help bring the kingdom of God that much closer.
On this World Communion Sunday, as we gather with Christians around the world in the sacred meal Christ has taught us to share together, let us remember what Paul said, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
This one God, giving graciously, loving unconditionally, showing great mercy in our sins. We are one with Him through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Let us leave our childish ways behind, and let our Father show us how to live as He has taught us to live.