As children reach a certain age, they typically become more and more independent. So, it would seem that parents’, guardians’, or caregivers’ responsibilities would decrease accordingly. Oh, don’t children enter the world completely helpless and adorable. One can’t help but hug and kiss them. And when they are vulnerable, if we are normal, we don’t mind taking care of their every need. We even feel some-kind-of-way the first time they push back our helping hand as they assert that they can do it on their own. Every year of their lives yields this type of growth tension between us parents and our children.
I know there was a time when my boys, now young men, didn’t mind me picking out their matching outfits and telling them what kind of haircuts to get. But then, there was middle school. Oh, the teenage years, when according to the preteens and teenagers, parents and every other adult knows absolutely nothing!
As parents approach the finish line of their children becoming young adults, they are hopeful that they have done a great job and raised super humans, who are both mature, responsible, and industrious - you know, well-rounded. Both the parents and the children anxiously anticipate this time, most often with mixed emotions. Then, it happens; our children are grown. But nobody really told us about grown children. The responsibility may have been diminishing as the children grew up physically, but in no way, would it completely disappear. For grown children, we are a parent as needed, which means we are always on call. I wish there was a parenting rubric that fit every child, but even if it existed (and parenting books do exist), then it would only be a template that would need to be repeatedly adapted per child and per year of each child’s life.
We learn a lot raising children, but grown children teach us, well, let’s just say, some very advanced lessons. When our children become grown, we parent at a distance, and this varies at the grown-up child’s discretion. Now, we cannot and learn to dare not tell them what to do, especially when we tried that time and were quickly told by that baby that was so cute, “I’m grown.” No, we advise most often when we are asked; but sometimes, we sneak in advice subtly when we feel its warranted. We also, when we are able, play the role of helping out or rescuing, especially in the early adult years.
Well, I have said all of this to say that grown up saints, believers, children of God need to do better! I mean WE need to do better. I have learned that in some ways, adults are just grown children not necessarily grown, mature adults. And you know, the saying is that you can’t tell grown children what to do. However, that should not be the case with God’s children, right? I guess we kind of do tell God that inadvertently with our actions. As believers, who say we love God (John 14:15), we should aim to mature, grow up and do right (Matthew 6:33).
Now, as followers of Jesus, we learn that we are children of God (John 1:12), that we are co-heirs with Christ, our Savior (Romans 8:15-17). And we love to broadcast that we are children of God. And that’s what God calls too. Since God is our parent, our Abba, Father (Romans 8:15), then it would follow that He raises us up. That is, when we accept Him as our LORD and Savior (Romans 10:9-10, 13), we are essentially born again, which makes us spiritual infants. God through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the spiritually gifted body of believers raises us up – He disciples us. And if we submit to His discipleship, then we should no longer be infants or children in Christ but mature ‘adults,’ if you will, in Christ.
God, our Father, is not like our earthly parents as far as parenting at a distance when we become adults. No, it is necessary that He remain intimately involved in our entire lives. But because of our waywardness or our sinfulness or our rebellion, we still find ourselves declaring in some way or fashion, “This is my life!” (Another way of saying, “I’m grown, and I don’t need anybody telling me what I can and cannot do.”) Then we come to ourselves, because doing things our own way fails colossally. So, we realize that we need God to live this life well (abundantly according to John 10:10).
We need all of God, not just to help us out or to rescue us. We need His guidance, His love, His compassion, His mercy, His forgiveness, His protection, His provision, His healing, His …. I only wish that we wouldn’t keep resisting Him by disobeying Him, especially in the things He has instructed us about already in His Word. He has given us all of Himself, saving us through Christ and dwelling in us as the Holy Spirit. So, let’s grow up saints! Please. We know better than to pout about not getting our way. We know that we should forgive one another and make things right with others when we were in the wrong. We know what we should and should not do, and if we don’t, God is only a prayer and a scripture away.
Let's allow the following passages to encourage us to become mature because there are those who are yet to be born again that need us to do so in order that we may be able to disciple them (Matthew 28:18-20). Please read closely.
1 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV, emphasis added)
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Corinthians 3:1-4 (NIV, emphasis added)
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
Hebrew 5:11-14 (NIV, emphasis added)
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV, emphasis added)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
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 people in their deceitful scheming. 15 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. 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.
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV, emphasis added)
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.