Oh grow up!
That was on my mind when my wife and I had just returned from being with our daughter. We were working through a pesky issue our daughter was having with a neighbor.
We were discussing the potential options. Helen had one idea and I had another. Helen began unpacking my rationale. The more she spoke the more I started getting frustrated, then defensive.
Helen didn’t say it but I heard the tape in my mind, “Grow up.” I had to face the limitations of my decision. It was hard to walk into the awkward conversation. It would have been easier to shut down the discussion.
All of us have heard those words: Grow up. It could have been on the playground, at home, or at our jobs. When those words are stated it produces shame or even anger. We want to get away. The words do not even need to be stated. We can hear them in our minds and still be moved to a bad place emotionally.
The Challenge of Maturity
Growing up is hard work. In fact, we never are released from being challenged to become more mature. It is one of the biggest challenges for us as humans. Full-fledged adults can act as immaturely as a five-year-old. That should not be.
The results of this phrase can cause us to get stuck, back away from the situation, or never get over the issue. The opportunity lies here: If we are trained by the challenge, we gain beauty and energy to live. Deep joy becomes a part of our existence.
Life has its moments when we need to face a challenge, when we need to live in a new reality.
The sad fact for us spiritually is that sometimes we avoid growing up. We dodge the maturation process, choosing to avoid or blow up instead taking a new step. We get stuck by life’s challenges. We each face this truth: growing up is awkward, scary, and disorienting.
Growing up in Christ
How do we grow up in Christ? Here are three steps.
1. Know who you are
The first Epistle of John has a passage that speaks to the process of discipleship. In becoming mature in Christ we must take steps.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1 ESV).
Knowing who we are is the crucial starting point. Our identity in Christ is the place to begin. This does not mean proving ourselves through acting good or through self-aggrandizement. This love is given by the Father. It is not earned. Being a “child of God” is his choice. This becomes our new identity. We are his children!
As an adolescent, identity and purpose are big topics. It is, however, still so important as adults for us to know who we are. Don’t miss it. Stop and consider the power of knowing who you are—who you are in the depths of your soul. Hear the Father look you in the eyes saying, “I love YOU.”
As adults many times we walk past the idea of identity. Remember how deep these issues were when you were a teenager. Identity and significance were on the forefront of our minds. We need to own our identity as his children today and everyday forward.
2. Know who you will be
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 ESV).
But there is more. Though we are children of God right now, there is more to come! It is the paradox of our life in Christ. You are completely a child of God today and there is more coming. In Christ, we can anticipate our ultimate transformation into our glorified bodies.
It doesn’t take long to realize as a believer that sin still has its effect on us. We are still very much a child and still battling sins. The Apostle Paul described the battle in Romans 7 saying, “the things I want to do I don’t do and the things i shouldn’t do i do.” This is the challenge for all of us who live on this side of eternity.
Here’s the hope: one day all our weaknesses, wounds, wickedness, and warts will be gone. “We shall be like him,” as 1 John 3:2 two states. Imagine for a moment not to have a mean thought, an evil desire, or a selfish want. In Christ we will experience this. Be hopeful. Enjoy this complete transformation of our soul!
3. Know the path
“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:3 ESV).
This verse pushes us from complacency. We are called to grow up even though we are not there. How do we press towards purity knowing our condition?
Note the phrase in verse three: “everyone who thus hopes in him.” To what is this pointing? It is the hope that one day we will be like Christ (see 3:2). The full transformation of our discipleship will be complete in Him. That is where we are headed, our glorification. That hope of full transformation can be the impetus of our steps today towards purity.
Our sanctification need not start with guilt or attempting to prove ourselves. It starts with knowing that one day we will be fully pure, just like Jesus. Christ himself will finish the good work.
This is how we grow up in Christ. Each of us must rest in our identity as a child of God. We look ahead in hope of transformation from our flawed lifestyle. That hope of being transformed will enable us to press forward in maturing.
In growing up in Christ we will experience the fullness of his joy (John 15:10,11). Our glorification, our metamorphosis spiritually, will be an exhilarating new adventure. Even the little steps we take today in purifying our souls will be joyful.
Let’s grow up! It is the way to abundant life.
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