Grow Up: Helping Spiritual Babies to Become Mature

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

Before we leave Ephesians 4:14, I want to offer a couple additional thoughts on spiritual babies and how they can become mature in Christ.

As we saw in yesterday's reflection, we are not to be infants who are "tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching" (4:14). Infants, in this context, are those who are influenced by teaching that contradicts the core truth of Christian faith. Such teaching comes from those who practice trickery for selfish gain.

I wonder, though, if the phrase "every wind of teaching" might also include that which is not hard-core heresy, but simply misguided or distracting. As a pastor, I have occasionally counseled with people who rejected basic Christian faith. But, far more commonly, I have dealt with those who were surfing the wave of the latest trendy theology or philosophy. In some cases, they fell under the influence of a popular media preacher whose theology was questionable at best. In other cases, the disturbing wind came from a secular guru. Even if the spiritual infants didn't abandon their faith, their lives became focused on something other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications. Thus, they were tossed around in their faith and life.

The use of the metaphor of infants implies that spiritually immature people are not able to make themselves grow up. Real babies depend on others to feed them, clothe them, and protect them. So it is with believers who are young in the faith. They need to be instructed and equipped by spiritual leaders, especially pastor-teachers (4:11). But the responsibility for helping immature believers falls, not only upon the identified leaders, but also upon the whole church. (We'll see this clearly as we continue on in Ephesians 4. See also Col. 3:16, 1 Cor. 12-14.)

All of us begin our Christian lives as "infants," no matter our chronological age. God intends for each of us to grow up as the body of Christ does its work in our lives. As we grow into maturity, we become those who teach and nurture others, so that they—and the whole body—might grow up in Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Where are you along the spectrum of Christian maturity? To what extent are you blown about by every wind of doctrine? What helps you to remain firmly grounded in God's truth? If you have been a Christian for a while, are you helping immature believers to grow up in their faith?

PRAYER: Gracious God, I confess that I am sometimes swayed by that which is faddish and "in." I can get caught up in the latest fancy of the culture, which, I don't reject the Gospel, but I do lose focus, sometimes attending to that which distracts me from you. Forgive me, Lord.

Help me to be faithful to grow up in you. Even though I've been a Christian for a long time, may I continue to learn from others, to be instructed, encouraged, admonished, and strengthened by them.

I pray for the grace to be faithful in helping spiritual infants to grow up. Give me wisdom and a firm grasp on the truth. Help me to communicate the Gospel in a timely and compelling way. Help me to live the Gospel in all that I do. Amen.

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