I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with my granddaughter who is four years old. She loves to come to Grandma’s house because I have all the old Disney movies on VHS and to her they are perfect! She and my son always watch movies; Mulan is one of her favorites. In case you are not up on the latest Mulan is a story from China about a girl who wants to fight in the Chinese Army and can only do so if she pretends to be a boy. And my granddaughter likes it very much. My granddaughter has some Chinese blood flowing through her veins as her Mama is half-Chinese. Later in the day we were talking and I told her that I was her Grandmama. She told me I was her Grandma and that her Grandmama lives in Japan. I explained to her that her Great-Grandma lived in Canada and that she used to live in Hong Kong and that was a part of China and not Japan. She would not believe it…her Grandmama lives in Japan! Trying to convince her of the truth was impossible so I let the subject drop. I thought we had a pretty cute conversation and her point got across, I am not her Grandmama because I am her Grandma! Okay, little grass-hopper, I believe you. This, as cute as it is, really is a great example of how a young child thinks. They are putting to words how they view their world. She knew that she had a Chinese Grandma somewhere in the world but couldn’t remember where so she assigned her to a country and it was Japan! Of course she was wrong but I couldn’t get her to change her mind! We adults are often as wrong as she was about the things we believe especially when it comes to what we believe about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That is why the Apostle Paul said we need to grow out of babyhood and into adulthood as Christians.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 1:13-2:3, (New International Version or NIV).
An adult Christian, one who is full of maturity, is going to realize that life as a Christian requires more than just loving our enemies or saying the sinner’s prayer. A mature Christian is going to be aware of the darkness in this world, the evil that goes on and the battle that rages in our thinking and actions and will learn to not give in to such darkness. A mature Christian will be much more patient and holy and righteous and produces good fruits and good deeds. A mature Christian will be ready to tell anyone who asks why they are a Christian. An immature Christian won’t know why they believe what they believe and won’t be capable of explaining why they believe because they don’t really know what they believe. An immature Christian can be easily deceived and led away from Christ. That is why we need to be mature, to grow up as Christians in our faith. It is a life-long process similar to the process of a baby growing into an adult. We will stumble and fall but we keep going and we keep learning and we grow deeper and more mature. But if we don’t grow more mature, then we will be like my little granddaughter and not believing in the truth and not listening to what is really true. What more does the Bible have to say about immaturity?
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” 1 Corinthians 14:18-25, (NIV).
There comes a time when we need to let go of our fascination with only one part of the Gospel and move on to deeper things. Tongues is certainly a gift of the Holy Spirit but the Apostle Paul saw Christians who were concentrating on only tongues and nothing else and he rightly points out that an emphasis on tongues was not helping spread the Gospel as was the command from Jesus (Mark 16:15-16). We are given tools by the Holy Spirit to help us in the work of the church and while tongues help to speak to someone who doesn’t speak our native language, it wasn’t doing much good in the church when others didn’t understand what was being said. Better to preach (prophecy) and teach than to speak tongues. That was the point, that there comes a point when you have to give up your childishness and focus on yourself, and look to the good of others. There is something more we need to learn about childish thinking.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16, (NIV).
There is a place for child-like thinking and that is when we come to Christ that we have the faith that a child does that God will provide everything for us that we need. My little granddaughter has that kind of faith in her parents. She knows that her Mom and Dad will feed her and take care of her and have her best interest at heart. She doesn’t always like to obey them but in the end she does submit to their instruction because she has the faith that they know what is best for her. That is what God expects of every mature Christian. We will come to a point that we understand that everything we have belongs to God because He is the one who provided it for us and gave it to us. We need to come to a place in our faith where we understand that the education we received to get the job that we have to build the career that we want is all a gift from God. We need to come to the point that every coin and paper money that we earn is a gift from God. We need to come to the point of understanding that our family, our home, our car, our cat, our dog, and everything we own on this earth was given to us. Everything we have achieved on this earth is all a gift of provision from God. That is how we are to think as a child. Until then we are self-centered and disobedient and stubborn and resistant against God. Growing up in Christ, in our faith, is required and when we do we become more child-like in our thinking. What a paradox!