Grow Up: How Do You Know If You’re a Baby?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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. 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. 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. 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.

Ephesians 4:11

In yesterday's reflection, we saw that Paul shifts from talking about the growth of the church as a whole to focusing on the maturity of individual members. If the church is reaching the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, then we will no longer be babies. Each one of us will grow up in Christ even as the church is growing up in Christ.

How do you know if you're a baby Christian? In Ephesians 4:14, we find a clear description of spiritual immaturity. Infants are those who are "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." In a mixed metaphor, a baby Christian is like a boat in a storm, helplessly tossed around, without mooring or direction.

The wind that causes the infant to flounder takes two related forms: teaching and deception. Teaching, in this case, is surely that which is contrary to the basic truth of the Gospel, as the context for verse 14 makes this clear. (vs. faith and knowledge in verse 13 and truth in verse 15) The purveyors of false teaching are not seen as innocently misguided. Rather, they are playing games for selfish benefit, perhaps seeking financial gain or power. (The Greek word translated here as "cunning" is kubeia, which literally means dice-playing and is related to our word "cube.") Infants fall prey to their deceptions and are thus blown about by their falsehoods. Paul does not specify whether the false teaching that harasses immature Christians comes from deceivers who claim to be Christian or whether he envisions pagan and secular teachers. It's likely, given his use of the word "every," that he envisions both sources of deception (see Col. 2:22; 1 Tim. 4:1).

Therefore, Ephesians 4:14 answers the question, "How do you know if you're a baby?" by pointing to how you respond to false teaching and those who promulgate it. Infants are tossed to and fro. Spiritually mature believers remain firm and fixed in the Gospel.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you consider your own faith, do you remain firm in faith when exposed to that which contradicts core Christian truth? Or do you find yourself tempted to abandon or twist the faith? Are you confident in the Gospel? Or do you doubt its validity?

PRAYER: Gracious God, like all other believers, I started as a spiritual infant. That's okay for a season, but your desire for me is that I would grow up in the faith. I thank you for ways in which this is true. I'm grateful for what you have taught me and for the clarity and confidence that comes from knowing your truth.

But, Lord, I am aware of the evidence of infancy in me, even though I've been a Christian for a long time. Sometimes I can be influenced by teachings that deny your truth, especially when they are so pervasive and popular in the world around me. Help me, Lord, to be solid in you. Help me to grow up so that I will not be a spiritual baby. Help me to be mature and maturing, so that you might be glorified in me and so that I might contribute to the growth of your body, the church. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Family Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.