Whenever I take my 6 year-old to visit family that hasn’t seen her in a while, their immediate response is almost always, ‘I can’t believe how much you’ve grown!’
My response to that observation has never been, ‘Are you sure?! Is this normal? Is she going to be ok?’
We expect our children to grow. Growth is indicative of health. If our children weren’t growing, we would be alarmed; we would take them to see a doctor.
As I think about the non-growth in some corners of the Christian Church, I am curious as to why there isn’t more alarm. Are we no longer expecting growth as the normal consequence of a healthy congregation pursuing Jesus?
Perhaps we first need an expectation shift. Christians are supposed to grow (see Ephesians 4:11-16). The Christian Church is supposed to grow (see Matthew 16:18).
Once we’re on the track of expecting growth, we’ll be better positioned to pursue growth and to wrestle with those things which threaten to limit growth.
One of my worst fears is to reflect backwards on my life 5 to 10 years and conclude, ‘I haven’t moved. I haven’t changed. I haven’t grown.’
Following Jesus should fundamentally change us. Doing the things that promote growth, however, is not our default position. We will not drift forward. As I read the apostle Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian church, I detect that there are particular things for us to aim at and do to promote growth as individuals, and as gatherings of God’s people:
- Serve others (Eph. 4:12)
- Pursue knowledge (Eph. 4:13)
- Replicate Christ’s manner (Eph. 4:15)
- Work alongside other Christians (Eph. 4:16)
The point that I hope doesn’t pass us by is that God expects His followers to grow. And, accordingly, God provides sufficient resources and opportunities for us to pursue and experience this growth. To this end, may each of us seek to grow up!