Growing Up in the Lord

John Telgren


I still remember picking up the toddler toys to put them away.  I hated grabbing a toy to find it soggy and slimy because it had been in a mouth.  Things were different in those days.  We had to be aware of things in the house that could be a danger to a toddler such as stairs, outlets, and things that could fit into a little mouth.  So we childproofed our home until they learn what is good and safe along with what is bad. 


They learn to crawl, toddle, walk, run, make noises, babble, talk, to pick things up, put them down, and throw things.  As they get older, they learn more complex things, such as colors, numbers, shapes, and sizes.  They learn to say thank you and please.  They learn how to behave.  They learn that they are precious and loved by God. 


As they get older, they learn to classify, reason, and evaluate things.  They also begin to think about abstract concepts, including human nature, sin, the spirit, the flesh, and the meaning of life.


Through this whole process, their bodies are being nourished by nutrition, their minds by information, and their spirits by the word of God.  All healthy organisms grow.  If we are healthy spiritually, we also will grow.


According to Hebrews 5:12, we should grow to the point we become teachers.  We should be able to articulate our faith, our purpose, where we came from, where we are going, and why.  We especially, above all, should be able to explain who Christ is and what is ministry is all about.  The Bible reminds us that the apostle Paul, "reasoned" with people from the scriptures throughout the book of Acts.  He could articulate and communicate the truth of God's word to others.


These are not just topics for scholars, for a university theology class, or even a bible class.  These sorts of topics are foundational for dealing with the challenges that we face in daily life.  Without mastering these, we would lack the discernment needed to evaluate and navigate through the various alternative views of life we encounter every day.  Like the infant who grows in discernment, learning to avoid putting certain things in his mouth, to avoid hot stoves and outlets, we too grow in discernment.  We learn to recognize an injustice, to love truth, to value equity, and to loathe sin and unrighteousness.


So, spiritual growth is not optional.  Imagine a toddler that stops developing and stays at that level.  We would make every effort to correct the problem, otherwise they would be helpless and vulnerable all their lives.  Yet this is what happens spiritually when we do not make progress.  We become spiritually helpless and susceptible.  We need to nourish our souls with various disciplines such as reading scripture, learning through meditation and reflection, putting it into practice so that we grow in discernment and can bear fruit.  


There is no standing still in the Christian life.  We will grow or we will fall.  It is like riding a bicycle.  You have to keep pedaling or you will fall down.