Growing up is God’s goal for each one of us. Paul said to the Ephesians, ‘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. 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.’ (Eph 4:15-16) The Message version of these verses says, ‘God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything.’ Our goal is to become more and more like Jesus, to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. (Rom 8:29)
Growing seems effortless and utterly natural as a child, but it can feel harder to maintain good growth as an adult. Bad habits can have a real effect on us, so it matters not only that we take in food and drink, but we have to watch what we eat and drink more and also how much we eat and drink. Exercise is natural to a child; they are always running around and jumping and climbing. Adults have to be more intentional about this; we have to carve out time to exercise. Good parents make sure their children are in bed at a reasonable time and get plenty of sleep; adults take on more and more activities and forget that they too need rest and sleep as well as children. Similarly, children are natural sponges, soaking in information and facts, and then being forced to spend many years at school learning things. Adults sometimes think that learning stops when formal education does, and we become reluctant to learn new things as we get older.
The truth is, however, that God does not want any one of us at any age to stop growing, and the fundamentals are just as important to us when we have been following God for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years as when we first started. If we want to grow up in Christ, we have to make sure we are rooted and built up in Him, just as a plant or flower can only flourish if it is rooted in the soil. (Col 2:6-7) We must learn to live in the light as He is in the light, to receive God’s love and guidance, to feed on His word, to drink from His Spirit and to exercise our faith muscles on a regular basis!
Spiritual growth is key to all of us. Paul says, ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’ (2 Cor 4:16) We must pay as much attention to this inward renewal as we do to our outward health and wellbeing, and if we do that, we will surely grow up in Christ.