Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Immaturity

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Ephesians 4:14 (NIV1984)
 14 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 men in their deceitful scheming.




I went looking for quotes about immaturity and found the following. 

“Psychologically I should say that a person becomes an adult at the point when he produces more than he consumes or earns more than he spends. This may be a the age of eighteen, twenty-five, or thirty-five. Some people remain unproductive and dependent children forever and therefore intellectually and emotionally immature.”
 Henry C. Link

Henry Emerson Fosdick writes about Henry Link:

"I think that Jesus has already turned out to be the supreme realist of history. For example, a leading psychologist of my generation, Dr. Henry C. Link, was alienated from the church for twenty-five years, but he came back again because in his practice he kept running into the realistic truth of Jesus’ insights into man’s inner life. A great variety of incidents, he wrote, gradually forced me to realize that the findings of psychology in respect to personality and happiness were largely a rediscovery of old religious truths. No one ever really believes in Jesus until, one way or another, he has that kind of experience. He thinks of Jesus as lovely, alluring, appealing to man’s highest ideals and all that, and then someday he runs head-on into a fact, an incontrovertible fact and a law of life that visibly operates, and there comes to him the surprised but inescapable conviction: Jesus is right! What he said is realistically true! This teaching of his is not wishful idealism, but a fact which man neglects or denies at his peril! Theology or no theology, it is then that a man really believes in Christ."



 Hmmm - A person becomes an adult when he produces more than he consumes. 
As a parent I can see that as my kids grow they are able to contribute more. I no longer have to spoon feed them, and they don't need rocked to sleep, I don't have to have my eyes on them every second anymore. They are gaining the skills to be able to function independently of a parent. I suppose this is true of baby Christians as well. There is a period where they need others to take care of them and nurture them. They need others to slice and dice the word for them because they have not learned to rightly divide it for themselves.

When I was a youth leader one of the things that always amazed me is that parents would drop off their kids and expect in one hour a week that their child would become spiritual. 
I tried to explain to them that it is not the job of the church to raise and spiritually train up your children. We as youth leaders are there to encourage and come along side of parents.
Even as adults we have the mistaken notion that sitting in a church service one hour a week and trying not to cuss makes us a good christian. I don't think Jesus called us to just take up space. He wants us to grow up Ephesians 4 goes on to say.  

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 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. 


Speaking the truth in love. Part of growing up and growing together is learning to be honest with each other. Sadly what I see most often is when people hit a point of conflict or are offended for some reason they don't even try to work things out. They like little children stomp off and take their toys and go home. In most cases they jump ship and go find another church. As a result we have in America a largely immature group of people who call themselves believers. We've bought in to a bless me Jesus mentality. We want everyone to coddle, entertain and keep us comfortable. 

The kingdom life was never meant to be just you and Jesus and your personal relationship. The kinddom life is also about a community of people who follow, love and serve one King. 
If following Jesus was just about your personal relationship with Christ, God could have left this next part of Ephesians 4 out of the bible. This is all about how to live together with others. The bible is full of things that help us to know how God would have us treat each other.

 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I will tell you in 30 some years of following the Lord that there are no perfect churches out there. They are all filled with people who are a mix of carnal and spiritual. They are filled with seekers and believers. We all start out broken and our journey is one of working out our salvation. We must die to our self and pick up our cross and follow Jesus. That cross you wear around your neck should be a reminder of the instrument of torture and death that Jesus endured for the joy set before him. He allowed his body to be broken so that we would have a way to be made right with a Holy God.  He does not just zap us out of this world at the point of conversion. He leaves us here to grow up along side of other believers.

A bit more from Ephesians 4
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it


What does it mean to love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.  In Luke 10 an expert of the law pretty much asks Jesus to boil down the law as he asks what does it mean. Here is the answer he was given.
Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
   26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
 27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
   28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

I don't think we can accomplish loving God with our heart, mind, soul and strength alone and the love your neighbor as yourself part I think attests to this fact. 

Diamonds are produced by heat and pressure, Gold and silver must be refined by fire. It is often the difficulties and the pressure of learning how to love one another that cause us to grow.   We can't just nod our heads to what the bible says we must walk it out and apply it to daily life in how we interact and treat others.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, Help us to realize that we need each other. Help us to understand that as we are learning to love each other that we will at times go thorough difficult seasons. We will be given many opportunities to develop your heart and attitudes. Help us to see that if we jump ship every time things get hard that we won't grow. Help us to grow up and become mature.  

1 comment:

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