We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
“Grow up!”, or more often, “act your age, not your shoe size!” were things that I remember hearing said in school (not always directed at me!), and I think this is what Paul (I know that is a matter of debate) is getting at in this passage. “Craftiness in deceitful scheming” sounds very deliberate, but the preceding metaphors are rather haphazard. A boat without a rudder goes where the wind and waves takes it, a game of dice depends upon luck, and many children (and some adults) believe everything they are told without question. Paul is suggesting that mature Christians would be well advised to develop discernment and wisdom, and that this goes on throughout life. When children literally grow up, they become more and more distinct as their bodies, personalities, and souls all develop and grow. But the metaphorical process of growing up spiritually is the opposite, because spiritual maturity comes as Christians grow closer together in love and in relationship with Christ. How do we go about this? What does this mean for us, wherever we are on our journey through life and our journey with God?
Lord Jesus, teacher and friend, you are with us when we take our first steps in the discoveries of life. And you are in our last steps, however faltering they may be. Bless those near the beginning of their journey. Strengthen those who have come a long way. And cherish those whose steps of life have all been trodden. Help us to encourage one another as we travel and to know that although it seems as if we are forever learning and forever making mistakes, there is nowhere we can go where your love will not surround us and no mistake that can separate us from you, not in life, not in death, not ever. For you are our gracious Redeemer, not our menacing judge. Amen.
The Rev’d Michael Hopkins, Minister of Farnham and Elstead URCs, and Clerk of the General Assembly.