Growing Up in Christ: Friends not Servants

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When my sons were younger, age three or four, it was perfectly reasonable for us as parents to set out their clothing, help them get dressed, cross the street and prepare their dinner plate.   Imagine if my son, the eldest being 21, still waited for mom and dad to set out his clothes, help dress him, help him across the street, etc.  I think we would all say there are some issues!

The Apostle Paul writing to the Church in Corinth makes a magnificent declaration of what the Kingdom life is all about growing up in Christ. It is the beautiful picture of perfect love.  Hot on its heels, Paul calls the Church to grow up, to mature as he writes "When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good."   As we can read, the call to grow up is to put away childish ways and to mature in the heart value of the Father; in a word, this is love.  Paul would finish this thought with encouragement to faith, hope and love, with an emphasis on love!

We need to be careful we don't misapply metaphors.  Jesus encourages us to be child-like (without a sense of entitlement) but not childish. To mature in our faith, to become more like Jesus is not some ethereal, christo-babel or a mere amassing of knowledge about Jesus.  To mature is to grow and mature in love and live it naturally in real life.

Sometimes, Christians can get caught in a super-spiritual billabong of immaturity.  It arrests their development as they over spiritualize what it means to walk in the Spirit.  The goal of maturity is that we learn the heart, the values, and passion of God, and they become a growing part of us.  As we mature, we no longer have to be told every last thing - because we have learned what pleases the Father.  For sure, there are times when we do need to ask and wait for guidance, but if we know the Kingdom value of divine love, we have experienced the love of God then we can freely and confidently walk this value out into maturity.

The difference is important.  It is the difference between slave and friends, and this affects the quality of the relationship.

John 15:11-15  “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. (Message)

 

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